Dear Dr. Bill,
My 9-year-old grandson likes to express his views in a rude and critical way. Recently, I took him and his younger siblings on a trip to Florida. But when things weren’t going the way he wanted, he began to criticize me about how his little sister who is 4, wasn’t having any fun. In reality, I had made a special point of entertaining her while her brothers were fishing.
We seem to get into a situation like this every time we spend an extended amount of time together. I love my grandson dearly, but I can’t stand his rudeness. What should I do?
If your grandson is rude and critical, that is a character problem that his parents need to deal with. I’m assuming you’ve discussed this issue with his parents—if not, you need to.
Naturally you’ll want to choose your words carefully, and whatever you do, don’t criticize their parenting skills. Instead, let them know how much you love your grandson and want him to succeed in life. Explain that you’ve noticed he often expresses his opinions in a rude and critical way.
If his parents agree that it’s a problem, ask if they would like your input. If they’re open to it, you might suggest they read a good book on instilling character in kids. One suggestion is Jill Rigby’s book “Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World”.
If his parents deny there is a problem with his behavior and react defensively, there are obviously much larger issues at play in the family. In that case, you can only control how you respond to your grandson. Be loving but firm, and instruct rather than simply getting angry.
Thanks for writing Nicole. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.
Click here for the audio version of this article.