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