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Ask Ann Cannon: Should Grandma raise a stink over woman's new ink?

Published July 15, 2017 10:15 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Dear Ann Cannon • My college-aged granddaughter recently showed up to a family dinner with a large tattoo on her forearm. Knowing that she's done this to herself really upsets me. I don't understand why she would choose to mar her body this way. I want to tell her how I feel, but my son (her father) tells me not to. What do you think?

— Disappointed Grandmother

Dear Disappointed • Of course you can tell your granddaughter how you feel about tattoos in general and hers in particular. But should you? Take a minute to answer the following questions.

1. What do you hope to achieve by telling your granddaughter how you feel?

2. How do you plan to tell her? (Think about your timing and your tone.)

3. How will your granddaughter feel after you share your thoughts on the subject? Hurt? Angry? Sympathetic to your point of view? Indifferent? Ashamed?

4. Will telling her how you feel ultimately help or harm your relationship with her?

5. Is the net result worth it to you?

Your answers to these questions can guide your decisionmaking process. Meanwhile, bear in mind that different generations have different responses to tattoos — especially to tattoos on women. Once a sign that a person had done hard time in the Navy (or the slammer), tattoos are now commonplace among millennials. This reality may not change how you feel about tattoos, but it might help you put your granddaughter's decision to get ink done in the context of her world as opposed to yours.

Also, bear in mind that tattoos tell personal stories. Talking with a person about the reasons she or he chose a particular image can provide useful insights into that individual. I understand his would be hard for you to do with your granddaughter. But still. It's a thought.

Dear Ann Cannon • As a grandparent, I really enjoy spending time with my children and grandchildren. Up to a point. Here's the problem. I have a vacation home that I love … and love to share with my family. But whenever some of them walk into the house, the place implodes, just like microwave popcorn popping out of an open bag. I drop hints. I have a checkout list detailing what needs to be done so that the house is left in good shape for the next guest. But nothing is working. I do worry that if I'm more direct some of the family will stop visiting, even though we typically get along fine. What approach can I use with them so they'll respect my place?

— Anxious

Dear Anxious • I confess. Your email made me wince a little. I immediately asked myself if I've been guilty of doing the same thing to my parents over the years. Yikes!

That's why I've written the following letter to remind clueless adult children (including yours truly) that we're grownups now.

Dear Clueless Adult Children: Getting away is great, isn't it? Time to put your feet up and let your hair down. Time. To. Just. Let. Everything. Go.

Yup. I call this mindset "Vacation Brain." You're not responsible YOU anymore — the grownup who makes her bed or washes his dishes or hangs up her clothes — because hey! You're on vacation! The maid will do all those boring real-life chores for you. Or maybe your mom and dad will, too, because let's face it: You got used to them doing stuff for you when you were a little kid, even if they were the kind of parents who taught you self-reliance.

Speaking of Mom and Dad, isn't it awesome that they have a place where you can stay? For free! Score! You're saving so much money, because your parents are so generous.

Which is why you need to do your very best to HONOR THEIR WISHES when you're staying in their place. So what do they want? Listen to me, OK? They want you to be your own maid — even if you're on vacation. They've tried to tell you this, but they're worried that you'll be offended and stay away. Don't do that to them. Don't make them be the heavy in this situation when, frankly, you're the problem.

OK. Maybe you can print this column off the website and tape it on the fridge door. Or maybe you should be forthright with your kids and grandkids. Give them the chance to pleasantly surprise you. If they respond by staying away, it will be their loss. And, if you and the kids do typically get along, they won't stay away for long.

Good luck.

Do you have a question for Ann? Send it to askann@sltrib.com or visit the Ask Ann Cannon page on Facebook.






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