9/11/2023 | By Amy Dickinson

A grandmother disagrees with the risks her 6-year-old granddaughter is allowed to take, in the name of teaching her to be independent. Should Grandmom express her concerns? See what “Ask Amy” advises.

Dear Amy: 

My granddaughter is six.

Her parents want her to grow up to be independent. This manifests itself in many liberties and responsibilities, some of which I think she is too young for.

I have never said anything to the parents about this aspect of their childrearing, but recently I witnessed two cases where I felt their approach is much too lax.

In one case, they allowed her to come down a slippery marble spiral staircase with inadequate handrails – alone. She ended up falling, but thankfully was not seriously hurt.

The other incident was in a restaurant when she needed to use the bathroom. Instead of accompanying her, they told her, “You know where it is, go ahead.”

The bathroom was a single room with a women’s stall right next to a men’s stall. An outer door enclosed the room with both stalls inside.

I said nothing but went with my granddaughter and stood outside her stall. (When I was six, I was molested at a park, so I know how quickly and easily molesters can act.)

Should I speak to the parents about my concern that they should accompany her to public bathrooms until she’s older?

Or am I being overprotective?

– Worried Grandma

Dear Worried: 

child walking alone on a beach as grandma disagrees with parenting style

Given that you were assaulted at the age of 6 – do you even care whether you are branded as overprotective?

I agree that another person should accompany a child that young to a public bathroom, and then should stand outside the door until the child is finished.

Overall, any parent’s goal should be for their child to be savvy, smart, independent, and possessing good overall judgment. The way children become that way is for their parents to allow and encourage them to take some chances (riding your bike, even if you’re still a little wobbly, jumping off the diving board, shaking hands with a new person) and to learn through their experiences.

A slippery marble staircase? Risky.

A visit alone to the restroom in a busy restaurant? I’d call that lazy. And even though the risk of assault might be remote, one important lesson for kindergartners to absorb is that it is important for their parents to know where they are at all times, especially if they are in a public place.

If you haven’t told these parents about your own experience as a child, you should tell them now.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from when a grandmother disagrees to etiquette on food restrictions and lack of grief etiquette. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. 

© 2023 by Amy Dickinson

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