Guiding parents and navigating the dynamics of an absolute family


Dear Amy:

My granddaughter is six.

Her parents want her to grow up to be independent.

This manifests itself in many freedoms and responsibilities, some of which I think are too small to do.

I’ve never said anything to parents about this aspect of their child-rearing, but I recently witnessed a couple of cases where I felt their approach was too lax.

In one case, they let her down a slippery marble spiral staircase on her own without a proper handrail.

She ended up falling, but fortunately she wasn’t seriously hurt.

The other incident was in a restaurant when she needed to use the bathroom. Instead of going with her, they told her, “You know where he is, go ahead.”

The bathroom was a single room with a women’s stall next to a men’s stall. There was an outside door surrounding the room with both compartments inside.

I said nothing, but went with my granddaughter and stood outside her booth.

(When I was six years old, I was molested in a park, so I know how quickly and easily molesters act.)

Should I talk to the parents about my concern about having to accompany her to public restrooms until she is older?

Or am I overprotective?

– Grandma is worried

Dear Concern:

Since you were assaulted when you were six years old, do you even care if you are called overprotective?

I agree that another person should accompany a young child to the public restroom, and then should stand outside the door until the child is finished.

In general, the goal of any parent should be for their child to be bright, intelligent, independent, and possess good general judgment. The way kids become this way is for their parents to allow and encourage them to take some chances (ride your bike, even if you’re still a little wobbly, jump off a diving board, shake hands with someone new) and learn through their experiences.

Slippery marble staircase? Risky.

Solo visit to the bathroom in a crowded restaurant? I’ll call that lazy. Although the risk of abuse may be remote, an important lesson for kindergartners is that it is important for their parents to know where they are at all times, especially if they are in a public place.

If you haven’t told these parents about your own experience as a child, you should now.


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