DR. WALLACE: I am 83 and mad as can be. Previously, a teenager from Halifax, Nova Scotia, wrote that her grandmother couldn't live alone (I doubt that), so she was living with her granddaughter (the teen in question), her daughter (the teen's mother), and her daughter's husband.
It so happens that the grandmother doesn't care much for the teen's loud music, sloppy clothes, motley friends and unhealthy junk food. Grandma had the courage to speak out about the stupid behavior.
Did you praise Grandmother for her wisdom? No, you responded that the grandmother has a sharp tongue and if she doesn't have something "good" to say, she would be better to keep her mouth closed. What's the matter, don't you like grandmothers? Don't you think parents should live with children when they become old? — Grumpy Granny, Dothan, Alabama
GRUMPY GRANNY: I love grandmothers and grandfathers very much. I'm one myself! Their wisdom and experience contribute greatly to our society, and yes, I feel they should live with their children when it is the wish of both the grandparent and the son or daughter's family.
In most cases, the arrangement is productive and happy. In some cases, unfortunately, the arrangement is counterproductive and unhappy. It's usually a happy household that has the wise grandparent. I believe the age-old saying applies here: "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all." My logic applies in this manner since the grandparent (grandmother in this case) is not the head of the household: Her daughter and son-in-law are the heads of that household. Therefore, their rules apply — not Grandma's. I realize it's tough to stay silent on some issues that older adults, like this particular grandmother, are passionate about. But for the sake of harmony, it's essential to allow the head of the household to set the rules and tone of the home, and this case demonstrates this all too well.
AMERICAN PARENTS WEAK IN EXPLAINING SEXUALITY
DR. WALLACE: I read somewhere that in the United States, pregnancy rates are the highest in the world. Is it that we are just bad, promiscuous teens? — Concerned Teen, via email
CONCERNED TEEN: No way! U.S. teens are among the best on earth. There are several reasons why teens in the U.S. have high pregnancy rates among those countries with reliable statistics on this topic.
First, American parents are woefully weak in explaining sexuality to their children. Their parents didn't tell them; therefore, they don't tell their children. Next, as a society, we are very weak at informing young people about pregnancy prevention. Somehow, we feel that if we discuss prevention routines, it will encourage teens to be sexually active. Research surveys quite consistently tell us that this is not the case.
And finally, as parents, many of us stray away from teaching our children the moral responsibility of waiting until after marriage before becoming sexually active. Add it all up and our society has the highest teen pregnancy rate among the more developed countries around the world. The good news is that this rate has steadily declined over the past two decades.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.