This morning, I tried to drop-off my son with his grandpa. Grandpa is a learned man who was once an elementary school teacher. He’s obtained a Ph.D. and is knowledgeable about child psychology. But this morning, he was about as helpful with my son as a match is to a gas leak.

The plan was that my son was supposed to go to the State Fair with Grandma and Grandpa. But this morning, my son started panicking after hearing the radio talk about last year’s first day attendance numbers. First, he said he didn’t want to go because of Grandpa making him do math work yesterday. Then, he said he didn’t want to go because the State Fair was boring. (I think so too, but he seemed to enjoy it last year.) So, I pulled my son aside and asked him to be really honest about what he was feeling and why. After a short pause, he asked “what if I get lost?” and “what I get upset and start crying? I’ll be embarrassed and Grandpa will be mean!” I tried to comfort him but then, once I realized it was a lost cause at that point, I turned him over to his grandparents so he could apologize and tell them he’s not going. Meanwhile, I had to call my employer to let them know I’d be late for work. His Grandpa walked him to the car and said, “well, I can’t believe you’re missing out on a fun day all because you’d rather pout about math!” My son turned around and snapped “it’s not the math! I just don’t want to go!”

First of all, what idiot tries to make a kid who hates school do schoolwork in the summer? I was a school-loving nerd but even *I* didn’t want to think about school between June and September! And secondly, given that my son had been crying just seconds before, I think it was pretty obvious that he was upset and it was serious. What archaic child psychology course advises that the best way to diffuse this situation is to trivialize feelings and cajole someone into compliance?

I calmly (in spite of my growing anger) informed Grandpa that his grandson was just scared/nervous about going to the fair and that it was okay with us (Dad and me) if he didn’t want to go. He’s 9 after all. He’s been to the State Fair before. If he wasn’t in the mood to go, why force it? If he really wanted to spend time with his grandson, then adjust the plans. Take your wife shopping at the State Fair another day (which is really why they were going).

I am STILL peeved at my father-in-law, though. How dare he make it sound like my son’s anxiety was some kind of emotional blackmail or cry for attention!! WTF?!? I’m glad my son snapped at him. He can get away with it – I can’t!

6 Comments
  1. bridgie101 4 years ago

    That way lies problems. letting your kids be insolent because you can’t express your frustration will make for bad relationships with the inlaws.
    Fact is your grandfather was not told about your child’s fears. Your child indicated he didn’t want to go because of maths.

    Which would be a truly pathetic reason. If that were the only reason he was given, he would be expected to come out with that response. Even the story of being scared and getting lost and crying is something to work through, rather than kill the plan for. If you let your kid not do anything he doesn’t want he isn’t going to know how to manage to do anything he doesn’t want to as an adult.

    Your father in law is just trying to be a grandparent.

    |
    1 kudos
    • Author
      SullenGirl76 4 years ago

      With all do respect Bridgie101, my son was not being “insolent.” Insolence is defined as “an arrogant lack of respect.” My son was neither being arrogant nor disrespectful with his grandfather. He is not a rabid dog – he does not attack without feeling threatened. My son was clearly citing to the “math” issue because, to him, that was a good example of the personality conflict between them. It was a cover for something deeper. He did not feel comfortable confiding in his grandfather about his fears and, frankly, I am sick of repeating myself with the man. If he cannot be bothered or is too arrogant to learn about how anxiety is expressed in children with ADD, then I am not sure I can be bothered to keep giving him the crib notes.

      My son wanted to have fun spending time with his grandfather. My father-in-law, however, was too inflexible to find an activity they could all agree on. If my son was allergic to bees and grandpa insisted on taking him to a bee hive, no one would question my son’s reaction or my anger about how his grandfather handled the situation. No one would question a 9 year old being afraid of bees if being stung meant a shot or a trip to the ER. But because we’re talking about something invisible like anxiety – being afraid of being lost, being afraid of being upset and then treated badly because of it – it’s apparently “okay” to trivialize, ridicule and ignore my son’s attempts at communicating them.

      And for the record, he told me later that he didn’t express his fears with his grandfather because he didn’t want to hurt the man’s feelings by implying he wasn’t good at being a grandpa. Yeah… that’s TOTALLY a kid with an “arrogant lack of respect.”

      As for relations with the in-laws… to be honest, I’m not sure I care about maintaining them at this point. I mean, I am not going to impede on their ability to spend time with my son. I’m not going to bad-mouth them to my son, nor discourage my son from wanting to spend time with them. I am many things, but unfair is not one of them. However, I am not going to pretend to like them or respect them when my son is out of earshot. Nor will I allow another incident like this. If I cannot trust my in-laws to provide a safe, nurturing environment for my son, I will not leave him alone with them. Period. Toxic behavior and emotional abuse are not things a 9 year old should have to endure simply because his self-absorbed, arrogant grandfather refuses to educate himself on how to deal with a kid with my son’s emotional make-up.

      |
      0 kudos
      • bridgie101 4 years ago

        You have to, as a mother, manage relationships between people. You can’t go about killing them wilfully.

        You are the one with the power. And if you don’t care about your husband’s family you can do a lot of damage.

        You need to take a step back. 🙂

        |
        0 kudos
        • Author
          SullenGirl76 4 years ago

          Hello again, Bridgie101.

          First of all, I will admit that I may have a skewed perspective on this issue because my “family” were abusive and toxic people. My father was the only one who stood by us, but he was also emotionally abusive to us both (and abused me in much more hurtful ways). Accordingly, I learned early on that “family” means little. “Family” simply refers to people who are related to each other. If those people are rude, snobbish, superficial or otherwise toxic, I owe them no more civility than I owe the barrista making my coffee. Behavior is what earns respect and loyalty – not the luck of genetics.

          Your position, on the other hand, seems to be based on the assumption that families are always comprised of healthy people who love each other and treat each other well. Sadly, this is far too often NOT the case.

          Secondly, I don’t believe my job as mother is to “manage” my son’s relationships. At least not in the sense that I take that word to mean. Perhaps it is a cultural difference or a generational difference, but to me, “managing” his relationships is akin to telling him who he should/should not socialize with regardless of how he feels when he is around them and/or how he is treated by them. This is a dangerous precedent to set. Teaching him to ignore how he is being treated and/or how he feels around someone – relative or not – will only set him up to willingly stay in abusive relationships.

          If a child regularly beat him up, all the while calling himself a friend, I would be expected to intervene for my son’s safety. Why is this any different if the person doing the harm is a relative and the harm is not physical?

          As for not liking my in-laws… I did not go into my marriage with any set opinions about any of them. I was fully open to letting them earn my respect and loyalty. And I do like and respect a few of them. But I do not believe it is healthy to force myself or my kid to be around someone who treats us badly just because of the luck of genetics and the supposed entitlement the label “family” gives them. If my parents were still alive and they treated my son and husband like crap – just because they didn’t like their hobbies or understand their emotional issues – I would support my spouse and son and cut ties with them unless/until they shaped up.

          Children do not ask to be born and are not pawns to be moved around on some chess board of parental expectations. Children are wonderful gifts given by God to teach us how to love unconditionally and have boundless forgiveness. Being a parent is about doing one’s best to grow a child’s soul while keeping that child safe, happy and healthy in both mind and body. Parenting is not an investment made with some expectation for later benefits from the child. It is an enriching adventure and learning opportunity for the parent. To have a child or raise one with any other mentality is a disgusting perversion of what parenting is about.

          |
          0 kudos
  2. Author
    SullenGirl76 4 years ago

    Thank you newlease1. I think you are right. There definitely seems to be a generational difference in approaches to child-rearing. I will be the first to admit that my son is spoiled, but that is less because we give him choices and more because he’s an only child. He still hears “no” and doesn’t get his way. He still feels consequences when he disobeys rules or makes a poor behavior choice. But at the end of the day, as you said, spending quality time together is what is important, not what you are doing or where.

    |
    0 kudos
  3. whoami2 4 years ago

    If your son dislikes being around his grandpa, and regardless of for whatever reason, then avoid exposing your son to him, because the reality is your son is smarter than his grandpa will ever be. Grandpa lives in the past, your son lives in the present, the best time to live in of all.

    |
    1 kudos

Leave a reply

© 2020 WebTribes Inc. | find your tribe

Log in with your credentials

or    

Forgot your details?

Create Account