I love reading Philip Galanes, the New York Times' Social Qs columnist. Not just because his answers to life's queries have a wonderfully light and amusing touch But more importantly--or equally important--is this: He's often on our side. Even when we, as parents of grown children, behave somewhat badly, he understands, he guides our adult children to acceptance and empathy.
Here's the most recent example of what I'm talking about. The reader-writer is upset that her parents-in-law give her five-year-old daughter "girlie, pink, princess-themed toys and outfits." The mom doesn't like the message the gifts send. She has asked Galanes to help her find a way to tell her parents-in-law to back off on the girlie stuff.
Galanes answer: "With respect to you (and “Dirty Dancing”), I disagree: “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” Your obligation is not to prevent your daughter from ever donning a sparkly tiara. That’s just another corner. Your job is to make sure she feels equally free to reach for baseball caps, firemen’s helmets and astronaut’s bubbles (with proper ventilation). I am not worried about your little girl because she has a mother who is vigilant about protecting her choices. Lucky duck! Try thinking of your in-laws as covering the pink end of things, freeing you to help your daughter explore the rest of the rainbow."
Perfect answer. I would only add this real-world info to the mom in question: When one of my three granddaughters was of the age of her daughter, she loved twirly skirts and tiaras and everything and anything pink. (Her two girl cousins did not). We too indulged that Grand's penchant for the pink. When she was six, she gave up the twirly skirts. By seven the princess stuff was history. Her favorite color became blue and she dressed only in jeans. We shifted our gift-giving accordingly. As your typical indulgent grandparents, we've taken our gifting cues from our Grands--but always with a quick double-check with the parents. They've been wise enough to let us go with whatever spot on the rainbow applies at the moment.