Dear Annie: Our oldest son, “Adam,” lives two hours away with his wife, “Eve,” and their three children. One child, “Hayden,” is Eve’s from a prior relationship. She married Adam when the boy was 3. The biological father is irresponsible and alcoholic but loves Hayden and sees him when he can.
Hayden is now 13 and a good student, and he works hard to please his parents. We love and cherish him and consider him our own grandson. But we are heartsick that Adam and Eve seem to single him out for unkind treatment. They take him to task constantly for minor infractions. They fling insults and belittling comments at him. He is scolded for the tone of his voice, his posture, mannerisms and nearly everything he says. His parents sometimes make him stand in a corner. It’s humiliating for him. His siblings are not treated this way.
Hayden is basically a good and decent boy, and his parents seem to resent him. We are worried sick that if this treatment continues, he will rebel, and we won’t like the consequences. Hayden deserves better. Is there anything we can do to help without offending my son? We once brought this up, and they resented our intrusion. We hesitate to take that road again. What can we do? — Worried Grandparents
Dear Grandparents: Belittling, insulting and humiliating one’s child – at any age – is angry, inappropriate parenting. Since your son and his wife do not want your input, we suggest you offer to take Hayden for weekends or over the summer for a couple of weeks (or more) if you can manage it. He and his parents could use a break from one another. It isn’t a substitute for better parenting, but it will help. You also can suggest to Hayden that he speak to you, his school counselor or favorite teacher whenever he needs to talk.
Dear Annie: We often have two delightful boys over to our house to play with our two sons. These boys are teenagers. We’ve known them for years. They are being home-schooled by their very caring mother.
For the first time, the four boys were playing a game that required writing answers and reading them. As I observed them, I could see that the two home- schoolers were having trouble both writing and reading. I finally asked what the problem was, and they said they had never been taught to write in script. These are smart boys, but I worry this could be a real handicap for them in life. Should I talk with their mother or just let it go? — Feeling Sorry in Vermont
Dear Vermont: Fewer and fewer students are learning to read or write in script. With all the keyboards around, penmanship is rarely taught, and script writing has become a lost art. Will it handicap them? Perhaps if they have to read a note from Grandma, but otherwise, it’s unlikely. By the time they are looking for a full-time job, most of their peers will be in the same boat.
Dear Annie: I must take exception to one of your suggestions to “Perplexed,” whose father insisted on hearing his voice every day. I think it is ridiculous to expect adult children to call their parents every day. I am a parent of a wonderful grown son and lovely daughter-in-law. I would never expect them to call me every day. I would never be intrusive and barge in on them without calling first.
Why do we allow family members to treat each other inconsiderately and without respect when we wouldn’t treat others this way? Parents need to respect that their child’s spouse and children come first. The kids might want to call or be with their parents more if it is not such a burden. — Fran
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.