November 28, 2011
Embrace Your Inner Ogre
Dear Annie: My husband and I are raising our two teenage grandchildren. Our grandson is 15 and recently started going out with a girl. They attend the same school and are Facebook friends. We don't know this girl, but after their first outing to a mall, she posted pictures of them kissing. The following weekend, they went to the movies, and she posted another kissing picture. She posts nonstop on his page about how he's made her life better, and she texts him constantly.
We think this is rather disrespectful on both their parts: hers for thinking these are acceptable public displays, and his for thinking we wouldn't care. Our grandson says it's unreasonable for us to limit his phone and text usage with this girl. The other unspeakable thing, apparently, is that we have access to his Facebook account. We were told we're old-fashioned because we want to meet the girl and her parents. This girl's parents don't know or care what she posts.
Are we true dinosaurs to think there should be limits for teens and that parents should know what their kids are doing on the Internet? What is reasonable in today's world? We trust our grandson, but we also remember what it was like for us at that age, and we didn't have 24/7 access. I've become the evil ogre because I have taken a stand, and now the girl is posting comments about me, saying that I'm interfering with their relationship. How do I deal with this? â€” Not on My Watch
Dear Not: Teenagers push parents in order to see what the boundaries are. Having no limits creates confusion and insecurity. Embrace your inner ogre. The world can be a dangerous place, and 15-year-olds do not have the best judgment. The Internet makes it likely that your grandson may regret some of what is floating around that he cannot control. It is your job to protect him.
Yes, you should have access to his Facebook page (although we don't recommend posting on it), and it's fine to limit his phone privileges because texting costs money. Invite the girl for dinner so you can get to know her. You don't need to meet her parents, but you ought to have a way to contact them. Most importantly, talk to your grandson about your concerns, especially about this girl's aggressive behavior, which is all about her social status, without any concern for him.
Dear Annie: It soon will be Christmas. We have four wonderful grandsons in another state, but we are tired of not receiving thank-you notes for gifts.
I sent one grandson a present for his 14th birthday, and he never acknowledged it. A week later, I emailed my daughter about it and received a Facebook post "thank you" from him. This is not acceptable. I taught my daughter manners, but I think she's just too lazy to train her children.
Do I continue with the gifts? Send a box of thank-you cards? Please help. â€” Frustrated Grandmother in Florida
Dear Grandma: You are not obligated to send gifts to grandchildren who don't acknowledge them, but first explain directly what you expect. A handwritten thank-you note would be lovely, but is less likely to happen. Please allow them to use email to say thank you, and let them know that if you don't hear from them, you will assume they no longer want any gifts from you.
Dear Annie: I am responding to "Confused," who was upset that her friend used the name of her deceased father when naming her dog.
We adopted a dog from the pound and named it "Alice." We then discovered that our vet's wife's name is Alice. He didn't seem too happy about it and asked why we did that. I don't think you can be expected to please everyone. â€” Can't Win
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