Bounced because of Nana

Posted on February 27, 2012. Filed under: Family, Parenting, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Dear Lora,

My mother can be inappropriate with the information she shares with my 12 year-old son.  The subjects vary.  Sometimes it’s about sex or drugs, etc., she defends it by saying she wants him to know any subject is okay with her so he has someone to talk to about anything.  Recently he complained to her that his babysitting job didn’t pay enough, so she gave him some bad advice that got him fired.  I am furious!  While he can’t be paid “normal” wages because he’s only 12 and has limited skills, that job was teaching him commitment and a good work ethic.  Now, he has lost all of it – including what money he had earned!

Galled Over By Granny

Dear Galled Over,

There’s a reason the old saying goes: “mother knows best” instead of “grandparents know best”.  That’s because, somewhere between becoming empty nesters and becoming nana and papa, our parents morph into a different species, which we wouldn’t recognize if we time traveled back to our childhood.

Their famous “eat your veggies first” line is replaced with “would you like nuggets or a cheeseburger with your Happy Meal?”  The mandatory bedtime you remember is now considered a suggestion, which is never implemented at their house.  It’s way more important for the grand-kids to stay up late watching old reruns of The Love Boat with grandma, who, by the way, considers it as educational as the History Channel.  Which is fitting, especially since your mother now seems more like bubbly cruise director Julie, than someone who was ever a parent.  She’s running around making sure her grand-babies are having fun, playing games and planning shore excursions in the backyard!

It comes as no surprise to me that your mom overstepped what you and I would consider to be normal parental boundaries.  When you combine a grandparents need to look like a rock-star with their desire to make up for their perceived mistakes made with us, you start to see how age doesn’t always equal wisdom.

Looking hip and “in the know” is super important to a lot of grandmothers.  While it may be cool for the grand-kids, it’s a hot button for us parents!  It’s crazy to watch the one time family sheriff turn into a court jester — treating grand-babies like royalty, letting them drink pop, eat cake for breakfast and teaching them how to play gin rummy for real money!  What happen to the parents who’s favorite line was “I’ll give you something to cry about”?  It’s almost like their bodies have been taken over by aliens, right?

Since I don’t have her side of the story, I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt.  In most cases, the last thing any grandparent would want to do is look bad in the eyes of their grandchildren.  I’m pretty sure she thinks she gave great advice and is completely shocked it backfired.

Unfortunately, you are the one who has to deal with the aftermath.  It’s one more thing added to your thankless routine of screaming “turn the volume on TV down”, “do your homework” and “for the love of gawd, quit trying to give the dog a Mohawk!”  It’s no wonder granny and pops have our kids undivided attention, not to mention unconditional love.  It’s easy to idolize someone who never requires they eat food with nutritional value and spends a crazy amount of time teaching the values of a Vegas card game!

Here’s the thing, your mom needs to “know her audience” — in fact, that’s something all of us can work on.  Just as there is a time and place for off-color jokes you can only share with certain friends, the same is applicable with the grand-kids.  Explain there are some things you shouldn’t be discussing with the kids — YET.  You can also tell her, when they are adults, she can say whatever she wants – whether you mean that or not, it will buy you some time — right now, they’re way too impressionable to handle that kind of advice.  Build her up so she can hear your message.  Re-enforce her queen bee status with her grandchildren and remind her that with that position comes big responsibility.  Let her know you’re trying to help her hold on to that spot…I know, I know, that’s going to nearly kill you to do that, especially now, since you’re so upset, but keep in mind, this is for your kid, not you.

I’d skip harping on how bad her advice was, and how ridiculous it was that she shared that with your son, that will only put her on the defense.  Make sure you stay away from the blame game and focus on gently conveying that it’s best for her to be a cheerleader, rather than an agent.

I agree, your son was earning more than just money with that gig and I applaud your efforts for instilling a work ethic, Lord knows more kids need that these days.  I suggest you call the family he was babysitting for and explain what happened.  Like all of us, that mom has a mother too and will probably understand the situation.  Hopefully she’ll give your son another chance and perhaps a little raise!

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2 Responses to “Bounced because of Nana”

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Uhm, I wonder what grandma’s advice was, and what the babysitting job was. A 12 year old boy babysitting?

GREAT advice!! And WOW! You hit the nail on the head describing the grandparents! I wonder if I too will be that way someday?


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