Dear Annie: I have three grandchildren from my stepdaughter who live in another city. Their mom has said that she plans to come and visit with the kids this summer. One of the children has a lot of mental health issues. On a previous trip, "Sophie" stole several items worth quite a bit of money. When I mentioned this by phone on their drive back, my stepdaughter said she'd ask my grandchild. Needless to say, the child denied everything.
She also defaced a painting while visiting. I later found out that "Sophie" has stolen large sums of money from her father as well as from others. She has been violent and twice committed to a psych ward. This child is 13, and I have always suspected she could be violent. This was confirmed by the other grandmother.
I really don't want her to visit but don't know what to say to stop the visit. Help! — Wary Grandmother
Dear Grandmother: If you really want to stop the visit, then be clear and honest: "No, you are not allowed to stay with me." Setting boundaries with loved ones and not wanting to expose yourself to violence or theft is nothing to feel bad about. Just be direct and upfront right away and tell her mother that Sophie is not allowed to stay with you. That does not mean that you don't want to have contact with her. Make it clear that you love your grandchild, as I am sure you do, but that you don't want to expose yourself to so much risk.
I would also have a talk with her parents and make sure that Sophie is getting proper mental health care. It sounds like she is very troubled and that her mother might be in denial.
Dear Annie: I can really relate to "Empathetic Grandma." My daughter also has an unusual dietary disorder that makes it challenging to navigate the snack table. We can offer alternatives, but it still leaves the child feeling deprived if they don't get to eat what the other children are eating. There is nothing like a crying toddler to make you aware of just how many children 's events involve food. Even storytime at the library ends with a snack. Are we afraid our children will starve to death if they are without food for over an hour? Our culture has taken on this notion that we cannot let our children experience hunger — even for a few moments. Parents become panicked if their child says he is hungry and they have no food to immediately offer. What happened to saying: "Lunch will be in an hour. Save your appetite"? A large factor in the obesity epidemic is constant grazing. We are doing our children no favors by teaching them that an empty belly is a cause for fear, and that no event is worthwhile unless it includes food. — Not a Snacker
Dear No Snacking Allowed: If you child has dietary restrictions, the most important thing is to be prepared. Bring snacks that your child can enjoy and not feel deprived. While young children are growing, it is recommended that they have three meals along with two healthy snacks. You are correct that constant snacking, especially on food without much nutritional value, can lead to obesity and health problems. The key is to space the snacks out accordingly so that they are not given too close to mealtimes.
Dear Readers: This Memorial Day, I wanted to take the time to thank all the men and women who are serving in the U.S. armed services. You are truly a gift to our country.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]
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