Annie's Mailbox: Granddaughters are being disrespectful

Dear Annie: I have two 21-year-old granddaughters who live in different states. My son was never married to “Shannon’s” mother, and there are a lot of hard feelings between them. My other granddaughter, “Christy,” recently married, and I traveled to another state to attend her wedding.

At Christy’s wedding reception, my husband and I were seated with both of our sons and the bride’s mother. There was room at our table for Shannon and her boyfriend, so I invited them to sit with us, but she refused. I didn't understand why, so I went over to talk to her. Christy saw me and told her father that I was not permitted to talk to Shannon at her wedding.

When I was informed of this, I was taken by surprise and could not believe Christy would make the effort to order me around at her own reception. I thought I had a good rapport with her.

I love both of my granddaughters, but I am very hurt by their rude behavior. I have been helping them with college and giving them holiday and birthday gifts, but I no longer want to contribute anything toward either of them. What is happening in our world that a 21-year-old has the nerve to tell her 77-year-old grandmother who she can and cannot speak to? I want them to learn that there are consequences for their actions. Should I ignore their behavior or stop all payments?

— Troubled Grandmother

Dear Troubled: Shannon was not being rude when she refused to join your table. She was trying to avoid an argument. Christy, however, showed terrible manners and has no business dictating which grandchildren you can speak to, especially at her wedding, which is a family occasion. Punishing her financially is up to you, but be sure to explain why you are unhappy with her disrespectful behavior.

Dear Annie: Whenever I’m upset or elated, I tend to shout out four-letter words. However, now that I have small children, I would really like to stop this bad habit. It happens frequently enough that I know they will soon start repeating what they hear. Please help.

— Don't Want to be a Sailor

Dear Sailor: Some people have a neurological condition that inhibits their ability to control the words they say when upset or elated. If you think this might be your problem, ask your doctor to check you for Tourette syndrome.

However, if this is simply an ingrained bad habit developed over the past several years, you can learn to stop. Being aware of it is the first step. The next step is putting your brain in gear when you speak, and not only in front of your children. Do it consistently everywhere. When you are excited, be especially slow to open your mouth so you have time to censor what you are going to say. This takes time and practice, but you are motivated to do it, so we have every confidence you’ll succeed.

Dear Annie: This is in response to “Concerned Paw Paw,” whose 5-year-old great-granddaughter spit at him.

Yes, little children misbehave from time to time, but a 5-year-old is plenty old enough to be taught firmly to show respect. If my 5-year-old daughter ever did such a thing to my parents or grandparents, she would not only be made to apologize, but would be punished soundly.

Discomfort around relatives you rarely see is understandable, but spitting is not. At 5, she is too old to get away with that behavior. Shame on her parents.

— Sensible Mom

Dear Mom: We absolutely agree that the parents should have told their child to apologize to her great-grandfather. Rude behavior can be corrected. But we also think it wouldn’t hurt for “Paw Paw” to get to know his great-granddaughter a little better.

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