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Our eldest grandchild is disrespectful to my wife and me. Her mother, our deceased son's girlfriend does not teach the 6 kids much about respect. Recently she hung the phone up on both of us. Now she is going to visit with her siblings. How should we handle this first meeting since the incident which happened a month ago?


Naomi Drew Replied: Have a private talk with her and tell her what you expect. Let her know you love her very much and empathize with her regarding stresses or problems in her life, but let her know that being disrespectful is not acceptable. Remind her that you are there for her and that you will always give her respect, and that she needs to give you respect in return.
Posted On 2011-04-14 21:13:23
Penny Warner Replied: I'd model the behavior you'd like to see in her, and perhaps mention that she hurt your feelings when she was disrespectful to you. She may not know how her attitude affects you, and doesn't see good role modeling on the part of her mother. Hope this helps. -Penny Warner
Posted On 2011-01-05 18:35:30
Barbara Gilmour Replied: Thank you for your interest in teaching your grandchildren to respect you and your wife, as well as others. Respecting people is not something that comes naturally to children. Each of us comes into this world as a totaly self-centered being. A baby's whole existence is about getting his/her needs met. It is our responsibility as the adults in a child's life to teach them to be other-centered. That is not an overnight happening. It takes years of patience, kindness, and modeling the respectful behavior you want the child to demonstrate.

It appears from your question, that you and your wife are not in close proximity to these children, and therefore may not have active involvement in their lives. Because they are your son's children, you do love and care about them. That is great. It is important to convey that to them, no matter how they act and treat you, or one another. Six kids without the father can be daunting for any mother. I am guessing that she needs a lot of support and encouragement.

Regarding the upcoming visit with the disrespectful grand-daughter, much as we all might want to reprimand her, I think that kindness is called for here. It may be she is disrespected at home, and therefore thinks it is appropriate behavior. If she is the oldest, she may have excessive amounts of responsibility placed on her. There are so many other factors that could be involved here, beyond normal teenage attitudes and the need to assert independence.

It would be appropriate to talk to her about this situation, in a loving, caring manner. Let her know that her attitude is hurtful to you. Help her to understand that you won't stop loving her, but want to have a better relationship with her. Ask her what is going on in her life; how you might be able to help, etc. In other words, establish a rapport with her that you may not have had before that lets her know that she can come to you with problems. If you don't already know how, learn new technological ways of communicating with her and stay in touch on a regular basis. A quick text that says, "Hi! We're thinking about you! Love you!" can go a long way in showing you care.

Because your son is no longer there for this child, I would suggest speaking to the mother before you talk to her daughter. Be careful to not come down on her or challenge her parenting skills. Indicate to her that you are worried and just want to help your granddaughter. Ask for her input and include her in the conversation with her daughter. You don't want either to think you are ganging up on them; but rather want to help and have a better relationship with both of them as well as the other children in the family.

I have included the name of a great book for teens that teaches manners and social skills in a fun way. Too many people don't make the connection between social skills and children's behavior. Social skills basically teach us how to act in a kind, caring, and respectful manner. Children who don't respect themselves have a hard time respecting others. Here are a few examples of instances where social skills training could have helped a child behave better, have more friends, and be included in fun things. A young child who hasn't been taught to share and play fair may be "blackballed" from play dates. (That is how this situation was described in a recent focus group I was part of.) A middle school-age girl who hasn't been taught to answer the phone properly, or is disrespectful to those who call, might lose out on a baby sitting job when a neighbor calls. The local boy who is polite and respectful will get the job a neighbor has rather than the surly, uncommunicative kid with the bad attitude. The disruptive, bully in the neighborhood or school might miss out on being part of a team or not be included in a fun time. The high school boy or girl who doesn't care about their appearance or has gross eating habits might miss out on being invited to the school dance or prom.

Please send a follow-up report to let me know how this worked out. Showing love and kindness always win!

Posted On 2011-01-03 11:30:23
Gary Pritchard Replied: I feel for your situation it is difficult to know what is always best as a grandparent. Because time has past since the incident perhaps it has given you time to reflect on the phone call and perhaps her too. The age of your granddaughter can have a bearing. Certainly oldset of 6 I would try being a questioning Grandparent. Ask her she felt after the phone call. When you see her I would pick " a teachable moment" to reinforce how you care for her and maybe mention how bad you felt last time you spoke. Then ask her what she was feeling when she hung up the phone. Give her time to answer (a little silence is okay ). Again explain the love you have for her and again by asking "Have you ever been hurt by what someone else said" (or did). Her response may surprise you. Explain how your where hurt by her behavior and see if she can understand this.. Tell her what you may have done differently if you had the phone call to do over again.. Ask her what she might have wanted to do differently if anything. Be clear you are talking about her behavior and not attacking her as a person. Re-enforce your love and that you will never give up helping her become the best young lady see can be. Here's a story that may help to make you point. Feel free to change the story to better fit your situation. (from "105 Great Stories") "After the divorce, her teenage daughter became increasingly rebellious. The situation culminated late one night when the police summoned the mother to the police station to pick up her daughter, she had been arrested for drunk driving. The mother and daughter didn't speak to each other until the next afternoon. Mom broke the tension by giving her daughter a small gift-wrapped box. The daughter nonchalantly opened it and found a small rock. She rolled her eyes and said, "Cute, mom. What's this for?" "Here's the card that goes with it," mom said. The daughter pulled the card out of its envelope and read it. Tears started to rolled down her cheeks. The card fell to the floor as she got up to go over to her mom and give her a big hug. On the card the mother had written, "This rock is more than 200,000,000 years old. That's how long it will take before I give up on you."
Posted On 2011-01-02 09:24:23
James Crist Replied: This situation is quite common, but all the more hurtful because of the loss of your son. However, talking with her about the importance of teaching respect is unlikely to work, as she will see it as critical. Your best bet is to talk directly to the child, but again not in a critical tone. When he (or she) is disresepctful, say in a caring tone of voice something like this: "Jason, I'd like to hear what you have to say, but not when you use those words because that hurts my feelings. If you use nicer words, I'll be happy to talk with you." If he still refuses, walk away and give your attention to one of the other children. There are two sources of information that might be helpful. Free Spirit Publishing carries books (e.g. Don't Behave Like You Live in a Cave) for kids on learning to be respectful--try giving the kids some of these at their next birthday. Second, the Love and Logic institute has useful information o(e.g. Grandparenting With Love and Logic) n parenting that might be helpful for you in learning to interact with kids who are disrespectful. Above all, don't risk alienating their mother--the kids will lose out in the end. She probably needs as much support as you can provide.
Posted On 2011-01-02 09:05:10
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