Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Stab to the Heart

Maybe it’s the full moon last night or I am just getting to be a cranky old woman, but my suspicion is otherwise. Incidents have been popping up in my life involving behavior on the part of the younger generation that point to a lack of respect for their elders. If this sounds familiar you may have read my previous blog about my experience with an insensitive deli counter worker. Unfortunately my day of frustration did not end when I posted that blog.

Just before I turned off the computer and the light to go to sleep Monday night I received an email from a dear friend telling me of a hurt done to a mutual friend who lives in Oregon. What I read broke my heart and has been a stone in my chest ever since. I read that our mutual friend had had a trip to the coast planned with her daughter and granddaughter during the granddaughter’s Spring Break. Our friend had prepared a picnic lunch and was looking forward to getting out of the city and her 300 sq ft apartment and go to the beach with her family. What shocked and appalled me is that before leaving her daughter called to un-invite her for the trip. It seemed that the granddaughter did not want her grandmother to come. While that shocked me, what appalled me was that the daughter was letting a seven-year-old call the shots and devastate our friend.

In talking to both of my friends I have learned that the mother of the seven-year-old subscribes to the philosophy that her daughter makes all the decisions. She thinks it’s great. If children were capable of making cogent decisions we would let them vote and do any number of things that endanger themselves and the rest of us. I’m not sure if the mother understands what parenting is about. At age seven it good to give children options to choose from, but make them appropriate options. In this case she should have been told, “No, we’ve already made plans with grandmother and we are not going to be rude and tell her to stay home, but in a couple of days just the two of us can go to the zoo together alone.”

What this youngish mother doesn’t realize is that she has given her daughter a lesson in how adults are treated. Someday she will be a grandmother, alone and craving time with her grandchildren and be left out of excursions and occasions because that’s okay. In short, as my mother would say, the chickens will come home to roost. As an old woman with some experience I can attest to the fact that your action toward others generates the same action toward you, generally at a magnitude of three. The Golden Rule on steroids, so to speak. Whether you believe that philosophy or not it is a fact that you teach people how to treat you and the granddaughter not only learned how to treat her grandmother, but how to treat her mother as well.

Also on Monday I read a blog by my friend Sydney Stevens recounting her experience with kids gone wild in her village of Oysterville. A mother allowed three children to run around the Oysterville Church grounds pulling up daffodils. When Sydney confronted the mother…Well, I’ll let you read what happened h

I have a nice story that give me hope for the generation raising children right now. Not all of them subscribe to the theory of letting the kids call the shots and teaching them to have respect for family connections. The same day that I received the shocking email from my friend I had come home in the afternoon to my grandson talking on the phone to his great-grandfather. I learned that he had also called my mother that day. This was instigated by my daughter-in-law who cares about family. This thrilled two elderly people and strengthened the connection between the generations. We could make a case for the fact that my daughter-in-law was not raised here. She was raised in Brazil and had a much more European upbringing where family matters.

My advice to the mother of the seven-year-old described above would be to cancel the trip to the beach with an explanation to the child that if grandmother isn’t going no one is. Her next step should be to call her mother and beg her forgiveness. Someday her mother will be gone and it will be too late. Someday she will be a grandmother, not wanting to be left out of her grandchildren’s lives.

1 comment:

Susan Wiseman said...

I hope that somehow your blog can be forwarded to that mother. I remember when I was around 12 and a family outing was planned (rare in our family. An hour before we were to go, we had a call from distant relatives who were going through town and wanted to come see us for a few hours. Mom told them to come on over...we'd love to see them. I was furious with her! Our day, in my mind, had been ruined. Why didn't she tell them we had plans? Mom said that's not how you treat company and expected me to be friendly and behaved when they came over. Which I was because you didn't disobey our mom. I got over my disappointment, and it gave me something to think about in how we treat others. On the plus side, they brought their dog with them and I had a great time playing with him!