Hus­band’s abuse must not be ig­nored

The Washington Post Sunday - - DIVERSIONS - Ask Amy AMY DICKINSON www.wash­ing­ton­post.com/ad­vice.

DearAmy: My hus­band, “Stan,” and I have two great-grand­chil­dren, ages 3 (girl) and 5 (boy). Stan is very crit­i­cal of the lit­tle boy. He teases him a lot and when the child cries or yells at his Pop to stop, Stan gets mad, crit­i­cizes him and stomps off. In a re­cent col­umn, you called this be­hav­ior bul­ly­ing. I had never thought of it that way.

Stan doesn’t do this all the time, but the lit­tle boy has told me sev­eral times he does not like his “Pop.” We were go­ing out­side yesterday and he didn’t want Pop to come with us, and when we were tak­ing them home later he didn’t want Pop to ride in the car with us.

I’ve tried to ex­plain to the child that he shouldn’t dis­like his Pop — but lately, I don’t like him ei­ther.

This is not new be­hav­ior for Stan. He also did it to our own chil­dren, es­pe­cially our old­est — at one time bit­ing her so hard on the arm when she was 10 that he left a bruise. Then he got mad at her for cry­ing.

I’ve thought about telling Stan what our great-grand­son has said about him but I’m afraid it will just make things worse. I’m keep­ing them for a whole week later this month and I am wor­ried. Ad­vise me how to han­dle this, please!

Wor­ried Great­Gran

Teas­ing or be­rat­ing a young child and then pun­ish­ing him for re­act­ing is in­ex­cus­able and un­ac­cept­able. Yes, it is bul­ly­ing. Bit­ing a child on the arm hard enough to raise a bruise is abuse. You have ei­ther pas­sively ac­cepted this be­hav­ior or (at least) have not done enough to dis­rupt it.

Your pri­or­ity should be in pro­tect­ing a young child who has lim­ited ways to pro­tect him­self.

So far, your great-grand­son is do­ing a good job by re­act­ing hon­estly and with­out fear by push­ing back and by not want­ing to be with his “Pop.” As far as I can tell, this kid’s in­stincts are per­fect.

In terms of your hus­band, start with a very hon­est talk about his be­hav­ior and the im­pact on oth­ers. Did some­one treat him this way when he was young? Does he re­ally want this lit­tle boy to be afraid of him?

You and your hus­band have a grand op­por­tu­nity to be he­roes to these chil­dren by mod­el­ing kind­ness and re­spect. You should let Stan know that if he can’t han­dle him­self around the chil­dren, then he should not be with them. Con­tinue to keep a close eye on them. Dear Amy: Thank you for your re­sponse to “Ag­i­tated Mom,” the mother who was up­set when peo­ple teased her daugh­ter to the point of tears. You called this be­hav­ior what it is: bul­ly­ing.

Grate­ful

There are healthy ways to kid chil­dren, but they need and de­serve to be in on the joke. Oth­er­wise it’s just an adult be­ing cruel.

Dear Amy: You fre­quently

field ques­tions from peo­ple who be­have very poorly to their daugh­ter or son-in-law.

I’d like to of­fer my point of view about this: Be­ing nasty to­ward the par­ent (or fu­ture par­ent) of your grand­chil­dren is re­ally dumb.

Avid Reader

This is wise ad­vice. Amy’s col­umn ap­pears seven days a week at

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribpub.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tri­bune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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