Once upon a time, before there were baby boomers, middle-class families had rules. One of them: Women supported the home through the kitchen, not the pocketbook. Everyone sort of knew their place.
And when we, as children, were really naughty, we got spanked. And even sent to our room.
No one paid any attention to us. Until we got revenge by having our own children.
We raised our children to have some say in their lives. Forgetting that as you reap, so shall you sow.
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Which is why I sat in a booth at a restaurant a week ago watching my daughter unsuccessfully reason with my granddaughter Meghan, almost 7. Forget the part about trying to reason with someone that young. At least give both credit for trying to learn something from the experience.
So, let's redefine our role:
First, what to call ourselves when our children have children.
In her new cookbook, My Father's Daughter, Gwyneth Paltrow revealed that her mother, actress Blythe Danner, wanted to be called "Woof" by the grandkids because she's "hot."
Goldie Hawn, in her memoir A Lotus Grows in the Mud, complained that she hated the word grandmother because it meant "old and decrepit."
Not waiting for the grandkids to come up with a moniker, many boomers create their own names, says Alexandra Zissu in The New York Times. Usually their first names.
This is a common attitude, says Dana Points, editor of Parents magazine. "Today's grandparents don't feel like they look or act like the grandparents of a generation ago, so there can be a weird disconnect with the official term."
The New Grandparents Name Book, a Lighthearted Guide to Picking the Perfect Grandparent Name by Lin Wellford and Skye Pifer offers 700 unstodgy options like G-mom, Doodad, Bubba and Sonoma and Napa, Zissu reports.
Well, I'm stuck with "Grandma Jane." I have seven grandchildren plus one stepgrandchild, and I'm just grateful they don't call me "Peas and Carrots." Child-rearing philosophies are changing, too, author Diana J. Ewing writes in The Baby Boomers' Guide to Grandparenting. There are fewer spankings and more timeouts. Maybe there are no spankings.
Did I get spanked? Not by my grandmothers.
Still, Meghan frustrates me.
What to do when she acts out in public? Ignore her. At least, until she annoys others.
I've got this theory that Miss Meghan wants attention. Can't get enough of it. Wants to be somebody important. Wants people to listen to her.
"I don't want to get married," she told her mom once. "I don't want to have to do things for other people. I just want to do what I want to do. Don't you?"
Daily living will teach her that life doesn't work that way. You have to fit into society, but you can know, inside, you just want to be in control of your own life.
You can't spank someone who tells the truth.
Jane Glenn Haas writes for The Orange County (Calif .) Register.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Jane's column appears every Sunday.
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