Dear Annie: I am the mother of a biracial child. My son's father,
"Derek," and I are not currently together, as he resides some distance away, but we visit often so Derek and our son can have a relationship. Ultimately, we would like to be together.
The problem is my father. He is not, and never has been, a fan of interracial dating. Over the past five years, he has come to accept his grandson, but on more than one occasion, he has expressed his "disgust" and "disapproval" of the relationship I have with Derek, even using the "n" word. I have zero tolerance for this. My father doesn't have to like Derek, and I've never tried to force a relationship between them. But he needs to respect that I'm an adult, and regardless of whether Derek and I are together, I am going to encourage him to have a healthy relationship with our son.
How do I get my father to understand this and, in the meantime, allow him to have a relationship with his grandchild when he harbors such ignorance and animosity? - Stuck
Dear Stuck: Hopefully, your father's attitude will become more enlightened the more attached he becomes to his grandson. Nonetheless, the way to deal with Dad is to set boundaries. Do not permit him to denigrate Derek in front of your child or you. If he does so, leave the premises immediately, not in anger, but out of necessity, saying, "Sorry, Dad, but I will not tolerate such remarks." Be consistent and firm. You can train Dad how to behave whether he agrees or not.
Dear Annie: I have three grandchildren, two of whom seem to love me and want to spend time with me. But my son's daughter recently graduated middle school, and I wasn't invited. She said she thought I might embarrass her.
The reason for this is because I say things like, "Please be careful if you are going somewhere I feel may not be safe." She thinks I'm being racist, because some of those areas are inner-city neighborhoods. I mean no disrespect by this, but still would not go to an undesirable part of town at night regardless of who lives there.
I also told my grandkids that I would give them $5,000 if they graduated high school with all Bs or better. Unfortunately, the two older kids didn't make it, but the youngest one is very bright and on track. But I now plan on revoking that offer because I'm not sure I want to spend so much money on a child who doesn't welcome me at her graduation. Am I justified or not? -- California Grandma
Dear Grandma: It's your money. You can do whatever you like with it. And she should have invited you to her graduation. But while we know you are concerned and caring, you also sound rather controlling. Is the gift for grades or behavior? Will you change it every time she does something you don't like? And you mean well, but protecting her from unsafe areas is her parents' job. Your warnings are likely what she hears from her folks all the time, so you are coming across as a scold. She's 13 and in full teenage mode. You'll get better results if you back off.
Editor's note: Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.