Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bummed Out Bubbie

Dear Ella,
I’m a 75-year-old widow who has raised three children. I am blessed with eight wonderful grandchildren whom I love dearly and equally.
But what kind of bubbie dreads having her grandchildren visit for a week in her Florida condo? When my son, Adam, his wife, Susan, and their two boys, Lucas, 4, and Dylan, 7, come to visit, it’s like a tornado ripping through, destroying everything in its path.

Adam and Susan believe discipline means a “time-out.” When one of the boys misbehaves, which means they have already done irreparable damage, he’s forced to sit at a table for a few minutes, but with access to an electronic gaming device. This is a consequence? There was an incident in which I grabbed Dylan’s arm as he was jumping on my living room couch and I smacked his bottom. The way Susan berated me, you would have thought I committed the worst crime. I love those two boys, but not in my home. They’re planning to visit during their spring break. How do I get out of it without being a shrew? I’m feeling very guilty.

Bummed Out Bubbie

Dear Bummed Out Bubbie,

Adam and Susan have put you in an unfortunate position. There’s no proven method of disciplining a child. Many of us grew up being spanked from time to time and have not turned out too badly. However, many experts feel physical discipline is a form of violence acted out when a parent has lost control.

Discipline without physical punishment can be very effective if it’s done properly, but many parents have not mastered this method. A time-out during which a child is playing a game or watching TV isn’t much of a deterrent from committing the same unacceptable behaviour in the future.

Adam and Susan have made a decision on how to raise their children, and you must respect their choice. If you feel their method is ineffective and your solace and personal property are being damaged because of it, you have every right to protect yourself.

At 75, you’ve done your time and it’s your turn for enjoyment and relaxation. You need to communicate your feelings. Don’t lecture them on whether their method is working. It’s not your place. However, as you respect their choices, they must respect yours. You have earned the right to a peaceful, safe home without the whirlwind of two unruly children. Tell them how much you love them and how you would enjoy spending time together, just not under your roof. Suggest that they rent something nearby, and maybe offer to help them find something. Let them know that at this stage in your life, you don’t have the patience to live with two rambunctious, albeit adorable, boys.

Adam and Susan need to take responsibility and accept the repercussions when their disciplinary methods don’t work. If they’re smart, they’ll realize that time with Bubbie is more important than where they stay during their visit.

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