Does the per­mis­sive ap­proach to chil­drea­r­ing ac­tu­ally work? Not with this girl

The China Post - - LIFE -

DEAR ANN LAN­DERS: Our 13-year-old grand­daugh­ter, an only child, vis­ited us re­cently and seemed com­pletely bored by ev­ery­thing we did to en­ter­tain her. We tried mu­se­ums and gal­leries, lo­cal tourist at­trac­tions and lovely restau­rants, but she showed ab­so­lutely no in­ter­est. Also, she ate al­most noth­ing, which may have been the rea­son she had lit­tle en­ergy or en­thu­si­asm for do­ing any­thing.

We had planned for “Maggie” to visit for a week, but af­ter three days of get­ting nowhere with her, we asked whether she wanted to go home. She said, “Yes,” so we drove her 250 miles back to her par­ents’ place, even though they had pro­vided her with an air­line ticket to re­turn three days later.

Her par­ents con­cluded that we ex­pected too much of Maggie and were overly de­mand­ing. Ann, this girl is not a plea­sure to be around. She has grown up with the idea that it is OK to drop her clothes on the floor — and the same with wet bath tow­els. When we played board games, she tossed all the pieces onto the car­pet when she was los­ing. This be­hav­ior was shock­ing to us, es­pe­cially be­cause her fa­ther (our son) is a psy­chol­o­gist and her mother is a teacher.

Do you have any sug­ges­tions on ways we can im­prove our re­la­tion­ship with Maggie? I sus­pect there are other grand­par­ents who are hav­ing this same prob­lem.

— Frus­trated in the USA

Dear USA: I feel very sorry for that child. She’s go­ing to have a hard time in life. It sounds as if her par­ents have been ed­u­cated be­yond their in­tel­li­gence. The per­mis­sive ap­proach to chil­drea­r­ing went out with the hula-hoop.

If Maggie wants to visit again, tell her what the rules are in ad­vance.

Also, line up some chil­dren her age, and let THEM de­cide what they’d like to do. Ap­pro­pri­ate movies and sports events and a boy-girl party would be bet­ter than hang­ing out with grand­par­ents. Try it next year. I’ll bet it works. And P.S.: Don’t say a word about her eat­ing habits. If she doesn’t eat what is placed be­fore her, sim­ply re­move her plate. Let her know where the food is and how the oven works, and tell her she can make what she likes.

DEAR ANN LAN­DERS: My mother-in-law is com­ing for her an­nual visit and is bring­ing her new boyfriend, who is a stranger to us. My hus­band says it’s OK for them to share a bed be­cause they are both adults (in their 60s).

I say they can sleep in sep­a­rate beds in sep­a­rate rooms.

We have two young daugh­ters, ages 4 and 10. I don’t want to give them the im­pres­sion that I ap­prove of a cou­ple sleep­ing to­gether when they are not mar­ried. There is plenty of room in our house to ac­com­mo­date peo­ple who need sep­a­rate bed­rooms. My hus­band says I’m be­ing ridicu­lous. I say if sleep­ing to­gether is that im­por­tant to them, they should stay at a ho­tel.

This has cre­ated a tense sit­u­a­tion in our house. They will be here in two weeks, and I am des­per­ate for your ad­vice.

— Sticky Sit­u­a­tion in LA

Dear Sticky: I agree with YOU. Your hus­band is wrong. I hope you win this one. Feel­ing pres­sured to have sex? How well-in­formed are you? Write for Ann Lan­ders’ book­let “Sex and the Teenager.” Send a self­ad­dressed, long, busi­ness-sized en­ve­lope and a check or money or­der for US$3.75 (this in­cludes postage and han­dling) to: Teens, c/o Cre­ators Syn­di­cate, 737 3rd Street, Her­mosa Beach, CA, USA.

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