Ask Amy: Child development expert worries about grandchild

Dear Amy: I had a 42-year career as a speech-language pathologist, working with young children.

Early childhood development was my professional specialty.

I made sure to provide my own children with play-based preschool opportunities. As they grew and showed interest in certain activities, we provided those opportunities for them in art, music, and sports.

Both children are now successful professionals.

Our son and his wife are the parents of two children, ages three and one.

They let us know early on that they would accept NO input or support, even when they shared their struggles and challenges.

Not even a book suggestion was welcome.

I have respected their wishes, and I respond to texts, e-mails, and rare phone calls with generic positive statements like, “Thanks for sharing that photo!” “It looks like he’s doing great!”

Now, our daughter-in-law is sending photos and videos of our 3-year-old granddaughter in a pee-wee “cheer” program.

She is on a “performance team,” complete with uniforms with short-shorts and bare midriffs.

For the competitions, she has to wear full-face makeup, including bright red lipstick.

Her parents haven’t enrolled her in a regular preschool yet, but they apparently are fine with this environment.

I have not responded to the most recent “cheer” photos and am not sure how to approach my son and his wife about my concerns.

I am sick to my stomach that this child is not receiving typical child-focused, play-based learning opportunities — and worse — that she has been put into a program that appears to me to be sexualizing young girls, to their future detriment.

I feel I must speak up and advocate for this child by trying to protect her childhood. How should I do this?

— Horrified Gran

Dear Horrified: You may speak up for this child by using your voice, or your pen, or your opposable thumbs.

When you do — you should prepare yourself for the likelihood that these parents will react badly, cut you off, and continue exercising their judgment without regard for your views.

I happen to share your opinion, as well as your concerns, regarding toddler “cheer” squads, “beauty” pageants, and the like. But these parents have the right to be flawed — or terrible — parents. They may continue making unenlightened choices throughout.

They obviously have (extremely) different values than you do, and they are demonstrating their values through their parenting choices.

You can definitely try to “protect” your granddaughter’s childhood, but the best way to do that is to maintain a relationship with the child that is sage, kind, accepting, and healthy. And the way to the child is through her folks.

I think you should continue to be extremely judicious in your reactions, and also force yourself to attend one of these competitions.

You can say, “This isn’t my thing, but whatever the kids are up to, I want to be there.”

Dear Amy: I recently moved to a new home in a small town. My house is in close proximity to my neighbors’ on either side (I like living snug).

A good friend of mine has strongly suggested that I should make brownies and take them to my neighbors, as I introduce myself to them.

While this seems nice and super-friendly, I’m feeling shy about this idea and am reluctant.

I’m wondering what you think?

— New in Town

Dear New in Town: If brownies are to be baked and delivered, it seems most hospitable for neighbors to do this for you as a way to welcome you to town.

Generally I believe it is wisest to start with friendly waves and to introduce yourself if/when you encounter neighbors outside. You might engage them by asking about trash and recycling pickup, or posing other questions you have about living locally.

Also — make an effort to join your community counsel, board, or historical society. Meeting other engaged and active residents will fast-track your acceptance, and will help you to make new friends among your group of neighbors.

Dear Amy: I had to laugh when I read the question from “Confused Friends,” who had been invited to a graduation party, only to be told by the hosts that the party had expanded to include congratulations for a sibling who had gotten a job promotion and was moving away.

This line said it all: “Adults who get job promotions already have their party gift: the promotion.”

— Laughing Reader

Dear Reader: To be fair, the hosts had not explicitly asked for a gift; I was stating my view that a gift was not necessary.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, In The Know, to get entertainment news sent straight to your inbox.

Source: Read Full Article