Annie’s Mailbox: Grandchild pushing parents around
Dear Annie: Normally I’m good at minding my own business, but when I see how my granddaughter, “Susie,” manipulates her mother (my daughter), I feel the urge to say something.
Susie is almost 12 and seems to be testing the limits in ways I would never have tolerated. She sasses her mother and dominates the conversation at the dinner table. When told to clear away her dirty dishes, she instead goes to the cupboard for a snack. Her discarded clothes are in every room of the house. When told to get ready for school, she turns on the TV. The bathroom floor is cluttered with whatever she tossed there. She even “forgets” to flush the toilet!
My daughter, with incredible patience, sees this behavior as typical for her age. I see Susie as a brat testing her power. Her father says little and makes himself scarce. I’m concerned that a child who should be learning habits that will serve her well in adulthood seems to have no more discipline than a toddler. My daughter, a teacher, insists she knows what she’s doing. So far I’ve kept my mouth shut. What do you advise? – Frustrated Granny
Dear Frustrated: When Susie is in your home, you can instruct her to pick up her clothes, turn off the TV, flush the toilet (heavens!) and clear her plate. Her behavior is not “typical.” It is excessive. While many 12-year-olds will test the limits of what Mom and Dad will tolerate, it doesn’t mean parents should shrug their shoulders and give up. The more the parents accept the more Susie will push. To Susie, if her parents don’t demand anything, it means they don’t care about her. The most you can do is suggest that your daughter discuss Susie’s behavior with her pediatrician, school counselor or a child psychologist for reassurance that she’s handling things in the best possible way.