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Old June 2nd, 2012, 06:14 AM
JillJ JillJ is offline
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Generation Gap/Lifestyle Gap

How are grandparents here dealing with generation gaps between themselves and their grandchildren? In my case, I also have a lifestyle gap because my 10 year old granddaughter is raised by her father and his mother (not my family), who are completely different from me in personality and interests and values.

Some differences are minor: My 10 1/2 year old granddaughter does not know how to tie her shoes, doesn't care, and doesn't want me to teach her. Apparently this is the new trend for kids nowadays. Soon we will have a country filled with adults who can't tie a simple bow. So be it.

Some differences are disappointing: My granddaughter doesn't care for books. She can read (though she glances over pages so quickly, I'm not sure if she's comprehending), she apparently gets good grades in school, but she never finishes a book, or even seems interested in talking about them. Books were a big part of my childhood, and both my daughters loved to read. I continue to buy her books, but I know it's only for my own need, not her's. Her family doesn't read, and for all I know these books end up in the trash. I purchased Little Women for her upcoming birthday (a favorite of mine when I was in Fifth Grade), along with a DVD of the most recent movie.......but I took a look at the book and thought "Who am I kidding?" She never even made it through Anne of Green Gables, or The Secret Garden. And no, she doesn't read Harry Potter, either. Twilight and Hunger Games interest her, but not enough to actually finish those books, either.

Some differences are scary: I'm talking about sex. She has a Facebook profile, and her friends don't seem like Junior High kids. But apparently they are. The photos are slutty, the language profane, and the subjects are mostly about who's losing their virginity, what boy is scoring this weekend, etc.

She has a crush on a 14 year old boy who hangs out at the local rec center. Her response to any admonitions I might give to her is a rolling of eyes and a complete disregard for anything I'm saying. She kept her Facebook profile public even after I warned her about Internet predators (I changed it to private), and looked horrified when I accompanied her into the game room at the rec center where she planned to meet this boy privately.

It's such a different world. Welcome to 2012. Where little girls who haven't even gone through puberty, still sleep with teddy bears, and can't tie their shoes.......talk about sex, think getting pregnant is funny, and ask for hair extensions when grandma goes shopping (next year she'll probably be asking for breast implants and a membership at a tanning salon.....and I'm only half joking).
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Old June 2nd, 2012, 06:44 AM
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Re: Generation Gap/Lifestyle Gap

Welcome, JillJ. I don't have grandchildren, but I can observe my mom with my children and with my brother's children.

My children have been raised much more traditionally and would probably meet your expectations. My mom is pretty close to my children and very much enjoys their company. They can talk and relate very well to each other.

My brother's children have been raised more like your grand daughter and I know she has a difficult time relating to them. The thing that she learned was that, if she wanted to improve her relationship, she needed to hide her disapproval. They often felt unliked, unloved, and criticized when they were with her and so they avoided her. If she wanted to have a relationship-- and perhaps have the chance to teach a little something and let them know that there's nothing better than a grandma's unconditional love!-- she had to drop the judgement. She has accepted that they were never going to meet her expectations. She can't undo the years of bad parenting. Now she's better able to spend small amounts of time with them so she has some relationship with them. It's not ideal, but it's better than nothing.

I'm sorry that things are so extreme.

Last edited by LucyVanPelt; June 2nd, 2012 at 07:24 AM.
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Old June 2nd, 2012, 08:59 AM
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Re: Generation Gap/Lifestyle Gap

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Originally Posted by JillJ View Post
It's such a different world. Welcome to 2012.
I have a 15 year old daughter - older than your granddaughter but not by much - and I volunteer in an elementary/jr high school so am exposed to many kids the same age as your granddaughter. Yes, it is a far different world from the early 70's when I was that age, but to be honest, I'm not sure it's fair to paint the entire generation with the same brush. How you describe your granddaughter is probably the exception among the kids I know rather than the rule.

I've never heard of the "trend" to not be able to tie your own shoelaces. That's crazy. I wonder what the "real" reason she doesn't want you teaching her to tie her shoes is.

It sounds like she's the victim of how she is being raised. I wouldn't be too worried about her dislike of classic literature (my daughter is #1 in her class and likes to read, but has never had any interest in Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden or - to my chagrin - Harry Potter) but her discussions on Facebook would concern me.

I agree with Lucy about it being important for you to try to hide your disapproval. It sounds like the little girl needs proper parenting, so I understand your instinct to say stuff, but she also needs good examples and unconditional love. She will be needing a "safe place" one of these days. It is a hard line to walk and I'm sure I couldn't do it.

What was her mother like as a child, if you don't mind my asking? Was she more like you?

In a way, this makes me wonder what my grandmother thought of me. LOL.
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Old June 2nd, 2012, 02:44 PM
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Re: Generation Gap/Lifestyle Gap

Thank you for your quick responses!
I know I shouldn't come across as disapproving, especially since I only get to see her during the summer and Christmas vacation, and therefore don't have that necessary bond that would allow me the privilege of parenting. A lot of stuff is eating me up by the very fact that I can't express much of it, neither to her or to the family that is raising her.

The shoelace thing (silly though it is, and I know it) appears to be the new norm from what I've searched on the Internet (where people are saying no one is going to know how to tie a bow), to my co-worker who has a 9 year old son (she said kids don't think it's cool any more to tie their shoes). I hope it really isn't the norm, but it obviously isn't strange nowadays, either.

My co-worker (who also has a teenage daughter) stated the oversexualization of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders is very common. She said they may hold off intercourse for awhile, but participate in actions such as oral sex (and I had heard about the colored bracelets girls wear several years ago, where different colors mean the different sex acts these preteens have engaged in).

Her mother was both incredibly intelligent, and incredibly wild. Yin and Yang. She is now 30 years old, married, doing well, and her wild days are behind her. Her mother and I are very close. Unfortunately, during her wild days she was taking drugs, and had a baby at age 19 with an older man who lived with his mother and was also a doper. For two years she tried to hold it together, working as a waitress. But when she fell in love with another man, her baby's father obtained a lawyer and he and his mother got full custody of my granddaughter.

My daughter moved 500 miles away with her new love, and never fought the custody, and only sees the little girl twice a year. She has never been allowed to have the girl visit her, she always comes here to see her (and then only if the girl's father lets her). My daughter pays child support every month, and also the health insurance. The girl's father seldom works, and lives off this child support and his mother's social security.

Hence, my granddaughter is poor, and I try to make it up to her by taking her places, buying school clothes, arts and crafts, books, swim lessons, go to the movies, go camping, etc. Her father is erratic, though (and so is his mother), so I'm never sure until the last minute if she can go with me. If he's angry with his daughter, he punishes her by not letting her visit me, so I walk on eggshells all the time.

I think more than anything that I'm just sad right now, knowing my granddaughter doesn't want to be treated like a little girl and that I have to go through this puberty time with her in ways that I don't want, and don't approve of, and have a difficult time relating to. I fear she's going to be pregnant at age 14, and the 4 of them will all be living in their dysfunctional home, while I'm the crazy grandmother to them, who lives alone and works for a living. And reads. And travels. And goes camping.

I want to be a good example, but I think I'm just an obsolete dinosaur to her (I know, I'm having a pity-party, I'm just feeling out of sorts right now).

Last edited by JillJ; June 2nd, 2012 at 02:53 PM.
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Old June 2nd, 2012, 02:56 PM
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Re: Generation Gap/Lifestyle Gap

Awww... (((((hugs)))) JillJ. My heart is breaking just reading that.

My sincerest hope is that the positives that you contribute to her life will help her by example. I'm so sad knowing that the father withholds visits with you as a way of punishing her.

I don't begrudge you your pity party. You've earned it fair and square. I just hope you can include your granddaughter as someone to pity, because she didn't exactly get handed a good deal in life. I guess with her the best you can do is that old saying attributed to Ghandi "Be the Change you want to see in the world."

I'll try to come up with ideas as to how you can positively influence your granddaughter, but I'm pretty sure you've thought through this fairly thoroughly. Keep trying! Don't give up!
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Old June 2nd, 2012, 03:02 PM
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Re: Generation Gap/Lifestyle Gap

Considering the situation, it actually sounds like you have a fabulous relationship with your granddaughter. MUCH better than what most people in your situation have, and even much better than what lots of grandparents who live in the same house as their grandchildren have. I would encourage you to relax and enjoy who your granddaughter is.
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Old June 4th, 2012, 02:42 PM
JillJ JillJ is offline
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Re: Generation Gap/Lifestyle Gap

Again, thank you for all the comments. I don't know how many people use this forum, but I would love lots of comments, from all different angles of the grandparent/grandchild relationship, especially when it involves conflicts, minor or major. I have a lot to process, I'm doing a lot of soul-searching, this is very important to me.

Again, this probably has a lot more to do with me and my personality, than it does my granddaughter. I'm trying to come to terms with a lot of things. I also have a situation going on with my son's children, but a completely different one......that problem will be another thread (and, as Dr. Phil would say, what's the common denominator here? Um....me?)

I was very close to my youngest daughter, who is now 22, and lives in another state (she doesn't have any children yet of her own). My first two children were raised in a chaotic household, alcoholic father, arguments all the time between him and I. My youngest escaped much of that, her father and I were divorced by the time she was 6 years old.

By the time she was 12, her older siblings were grown and moved out. Her and I lived in a peaceful household. We shared interests. She had great responsibility because I worked, and did great in sharing household chores. She also was a good student in school. She is bright, funny, and sociable (much more than me), and impulsive like I am (she became used to "pack a bag, we're going on a roadtrip" as a wake-up call on a Saturday morning).

I shared my world with her, and expanded it with her. We hopped on a plane and went to New York for the first time, figuring out between the two of us on how to use the subway.

As adults, we love each other, but do better living in separate abodes. She no longer needs a full-time mother, and we both enjoy our freedom.

I wish I could have that same type of relationship with my granddaughter, and that's the crux of the matter. She's not of the same mold. I can't spark her interest in anything other than swimming (thank goodness for swimming!). No other sports. Not history. Not museums. Not travels (she's the poster child for Are We There Yet). Nothing seems to excite her imagination. She wears me out, she wears me down, and I worry when it shows because I don't want to be grouchy with her......she certainly does not need that.

We listen to her type of music in the car (I have fun with Katy Perry and Keisha or however you spell it). I dance to the music to try and get her to laugh. I go to the movies she wants to see, as long as they are not rated R. I play knock-knock jokes with her (she has some good ones).

But I always feel a bit strained, I'm afraid to say (that's why I'm saying it on this forum). We go on short hikes (sometimes fun, but sometimes even cut shorter because she doesn't like to walk). We've done nature programs together, and I know she's absorbed some of that (but did she like it? I can never tell).

This post is getting too long, I'll submit another one that also explains a few other things that are eating away at me.

Last edited by JillJ; June 4th, 2012 at 03:15 PM.
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Old June 4th, 2012, 03:13 PM
JillJ JillJ is offline
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Re: Generation Gap/Lifestyle Gap

Here are some other things that add to the thoughts swirling around in my head:

Over Christmas break, I had her with me for a day (along with my 22 year old daughter, who was visiting. This is her aunt, and they seem to get along well, so I was hoping for a fun day).

It didn't turn out well, for 2 reasons. One, I'm pretty sure my granddaughter shoplifted some nail polish at a store in a mall. I didn't find this out until we were in the car driving home, and she went from saying she wouldn't put it on in the car after I told her not to, to denying she even had any (when the gears started turning in my head and I realized wait a minute, why does she suddenly have a bottle of nail polish in her coat pocket?). Since she denied it (though halfheartedly), I dropped the subject. Later on, I found out through her dad that they've had some problems with this in the past.
So I have a granddaughter who not only shoplifts, but isn't the least bit afraid to do it with both her grandmother and aunt in the store with her. I now know to stay out of stores with her, or to keep an eagle eye on her.

Two, one the of the places we went to that day was the Budweiser company, which has Clydesdale horses there, as well as offers free tours of the brewery. Children are allowed on the tour, and they offer soda as well as beer and pretzels after the tour, all for free. I had taken my daughter there in the past. I didn't think it was wrong.

Well, her dad had a fit later when he found out I'd taken her to a brewery, yelling at me over the phone, saying I didn't have his permission to even take her out of her small town (even though the previous summer he had allowed me to take her overnight, and sometimes 100 miles away.......suddenly I'm not allowed). Also, this from a man who gets drunk, smokes pot, and has girlie magazines laying around the house.

I apologized. Now, this summer, once again, I can take her places (until I can't. I never know from one minute to the next what I'm "allowed" and what I'm not).

These are the types of things I deal with in my relationship with my granddaughter. It makes me feel like I'm on pins and needles, never relaxed. I have to be hypervigilant. Is her father or his mother going to be in one of their moods? Am I going to do something that would cause disapproval? Is my granddaughter going to shoplift (or do inappropriate activities with older boys, my new worry this summer!)? And will I be blamed if she does something wrong on my watch?

Add to that the fact she is so not like my own children, whether it comes to helping me with any chore (she doesn't even carry things like her own beach towel......when I jokingly say, Hey I'm not a Pack Mule, she looks disgusted. And forget about ever helping me take down or set up camp, she refuses. She looked like she was going to pass out when I handed her a whisk broom and asked her to sweep the floor of the tent. Sigh). Or the time we visited a stone pavilion on a mountaintop and I said we could pretend we were princesses of old, and mentioned a castle I had visited once in Scotland. She was bored, and wanted to go sit in the car while I looked at the magnificent view. A 9 year old girl bored in a castle is something I cannot comprehend.

And it's going to get harder to build the relationship, the older she gets, I'm afraid. Maybe not, and I'll keep trying. But I really think she's going to be pregnant by the time she's 14, and start going from man to man the way so many young women do. She seems to have no goals, no interest in going to college. I said to her last year, You will need to do something, some career, you can't live with your parents all your life. And she said, Why not, my dad does? Touche. Sigh.

Last edited by JillJ; June 4th, 2012 at 03:23 PM.
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Old June 5th, 2012, 07:27 AM
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Re: Generation Gap/Lifestyle Gap

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Originally Posted by JillJ View Post
...this from a man who gets drunk, smokes pot, and has girlie magazines laying around the house.

THIS is the crux of the problem.

Maybe you can tell her the next time she needs nail polish that you will buy her some. Maybe you can put it on her too. It would be a perfect moment for some grandma granddaughter time.

Be wise - not accusing.

EDIT: You can always hope she does okay for herself. Some kids have to learn the hard way.
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Old June 5th, 2012, 10:37 AM
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Re: Generation Gap/Lifestyle Gap

Have you talked to a school councilor or any teachers about building report with her?

Would you be comfortable with taking her to a concert?
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