Dear Grandparenting: My daughter needed a new car. She had her heart set on a Ford Mustang. Then my granddaughter, Kat, got involved. Way over-involved. Kat talked her into buying a hybrid electric job to help save the world.
I don’t think my daughter completely realized what she was getting into. But it’s her fault for A) letting Kat into the decision-making process in the first place, and B) caving in and buying the car Kat wanted. We used to say kids like Kat were too big for their britches. She has this attitude, like it’s her birthright to have a major say in family decisions. At age 13!!
It really bothers me to hear my granddaughter take part in important discussions that are none of her business. She has opinions about things she has little or no knowledge of. But my daughter doesn’t seem to mind most of the time. She sits there and lets Kat talk.
This strikes me as a very odd arrangement. My daughter is a smart cookie and good provider. My granddaughter still has a lot of growing up to do. So why do they come across like equal partners sometimes? Rusty Shorter, Everett, Washington
Dear Rusty: Sounds like the logical extension of a world where grandchildren can grow up way too soon — empowered, entitled, large and in charge.
And while that’s nothing new, your situation illustrates how their parents become willing accomplices, consulting with their children and soliciting their inputs on major family matters.
In a recent National Retail Federation survey of parents of children born after 1995, 67 percent said they always ask their child’s opinion before a major family purchase, and nearly 60 percent won’t buy without their approval.
We’ve always maintained that youngsters do better with boundaries, and we’ll pass on the idea of allowing children to determine family priorities.
But there’s no doubt this generation of grandchildren has a greater voice. Surveys show that parents spend more time with their children than ever before and spend less time on friends and social events.
No mention of the father leads us to suspect your daughter is a single parent to a single child, a situation custom-made for a breakdown of boundaries into something resembling co-dependency.
Too much closeness, warn some, can interfere with a grandchild’s moral development. Children who emulate their parents internalize parental values and ideals. But when treated as equals, children have no incentive to strive to become like their parents, because they already are.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Lulu Elliott, of Battle Creek, Michigan, says she always “count my blessings. I have my health, my dear husband and our house, and we don’t owe anyone a single penny. And seven of my greatest blessings call me Grandma.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.