Dear Annie: I am very close to my 12-year-old grandson. His family life is not good, and since his parents live nearby, the boy is at my house more often than not.
The problem is, he started sleeping with me when he was a baby and still does it. I have addressed this issue several times and told him he’s too old to crawl into bed with Grammie. But he cries and pleads with me, saying how much he loves me, and that he wouldn’t be able to sleep otherwise. I always give in, because deep down, I’m happy to have him with me.
My husband sleeps in another room due to health issues. He definitely thinks the boy should be sleeping in his own room, and we’ve had several arguments over this issue. This is such a stress on me every night. Please give me some advice. — Grammie
Dear Grammie: Your home is a safe haven for your grandson, but when it comes to the sleeping arrangements, it is selfish to put your needs above his.
You know he should be sleeping in his own bed, but your passive encouragement allows him to continue the current setup.
Yes, he will be temporarily unhappy if you stop, but a grandmother (or parent) who truly cares about the boy’s welfare would be willing to tolerate his negative reaction for the greater benefit of his emotional independence. He is old enough to understand why you think this is best.
Please talk to the boy’s pediatrician about transitioning him to his own bed. It will take time, and there will undoubtedly be some backsliding, but we urge you to persist until he can sleep on his own. You won’t regret it.
Dear Annie: My 13-year-old son has autism and anxiety issues, severe expressive and receptive language delays, and profound sensory issues. Bright lights, loud sounds and large crowds can overwhelm him. Many things that we take for granted, such as getting in an elevator or going to the grocery store, took years for him to accomplish.
And it truly took a village of dedicated family, friends, teachers and therapists, along with sheer luck that he has grown and developed to this point. He loves life and wants to be involved, have friends and participate. He is simply a joy. Recently, my family travelled to visit my sister. My son still has anxiety about flying, and the airlines allow us to pre-board. But other travellers who made snide remarks and gave us nasty looks.
I’d like to make a plea to the public: Please do not judge others. My son may look totally “normal” and healthy on the outside, but inside, the daily struggles he encounters can be overwhelming. It takes just as much energy to be nice as it does to be mean-spirited. You have no way of knowing what the person next to you is going through, and one small gesture of kindness can make a difference. — Any Mom
Dear Mom: Well said. We wish people would train themselves to think generous thoughts before making assumptions that lead to being unkind. Most of us do not mean to be cruel and would be appalled to realize we have been.
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