Dear Amy: My granddaughter is six.
Her parents want her to grow up to be independent.
This manifests itself in many liberties and responsibilities, some of which I think she is too young for.
I have never said anything to the parents about this aspect of their childrearing, but recently I witnessed two cases where I felt their approach is much too lax.
In one case, they allowed her to come down a slippery marble spiral staircase with inadequate handrails – alone.
She ended up falling, but thankfully was not seriously hurt.
The other incident was in a restaurant when she needed to use the bathroom. Instead of accompanying her, they told her, “You know where it is, go ahead.”
The bathroom was a single room with a women’s stall right next to a men’s stall. An outer door enclosed the room with both stalls inside.
I said nothing but went with my granddaughter and stood outside her stall.
(When I was six, I was molested at a park, so I know how quickly and easily molesters can act.)
Should I speak to the parents about my concern that they should accompany her to public bathrooms until she’s older?
Or am I being overprotective?
– Worried Grandma
Dear Worried: Given that you were assaulted at the age of six – do you even care whether you are branded as overprotective?
I agree that another person should accompany a child that young to a public bathroom, and then should stand outside the door until the child is finished.
Overall, any parent’s goal should be for their child to be savvy, smart, independent and possessing good overall judgment. The way children become that way is for their parents to allow and encourage them to take some chances (riding your bike, even if you’re still a little wobbly, jumping off the diving board, shaking hands with a new person) and to learn through their experiences.
A slippery marble staircase? Risky.
A visit alone to the restroom in a busy restaurant? I’d call that lazy. And even though the risk of assault might be remote, one important lesson for kindergartners to absorb is that it is important for their parents to know where they are at all times, especially if they are in a public place.
If you haven’t told these parents about your own experience as a child, you should tell them now.
Dear Amy: My brother and his wife divorced after 25 years of marriage. She has been part of our family for over 25 years and continues to be invited to family gatherings like holidays and special occasions. She’s the mother of our two grown nephews and, of course, mother of my parents’ two grandsons.
My sister is the one who hosts the holiday gatherings and continues to invite our former sister-in-law.
We love our brother’s new fiancée and consider her a new member of the family.
My brother has said that if she continues to invite our former SIL to family gatherings, he won’t invite our sister to his wedding.
We tell him that our former SIL will always be part of the family and we don’t want to cut her out of our lives. We love her very much and still consider her family. He may have divorced her, but we didn’t.
Should we do what he asks and stop inviting our SIL to family events? They get along for the most part and my sense is he may just be sensitive to how his fiancé feels about his ex still being in the picture.
– Divorced from SIL
Dear Divorced: Your brother’s ultimatum is out of whack. His wedding has no bearing on your family’s continued relationship with his ex.
Given the way he feels, a proportional response would be for him to say that if his ex is included in family events, he and his new wife won’t attend.
I assure you that the great majority of people do not want to spend special occasions with their new spouse and their ex-spouse.
Your family does not need to cut your former sister-in-law out of your lives, but you may need to make choices regarding some occasions.
Dear Amy: Regarding “On Time,” whose friend was always late, years ago I had a friend that started showing up late for our golf tee times.
After the third time, we decided not to wait and started without him. Coincidentally, this was his last time being late.
– Problem Solved
Dear Solved: That was a consequence, not a coincidence. Well done!