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Ask Rene: How Do I Handle My Granddaughter’s Grabby Guy?

Hi Rene:
My daughter died and I am raising my granddaughter. Her boyfriend keeps pressuring her to have sex, but he is also older than her; he turns fifteen in August, while Kat is hardly thirteen. She did not mean to tell me, I overheard her, and has asked me not to talk to him. I do not want to disregard her wishes, but I’m not sure if that is the right thing to do. Any advice?
Signed: Worried in Wisconsin

Dear WiW:

Yes, I have a few thoughts on this as well as some advice; I pray you will hear me out on both. Before I launch into this I have to say God Bless you for taking on the responsibility of raising your granddaughter.  According to statistics you’re part of a growing trend; nearly 5 million grandparents are currently raising grandchildren in this country. I cannot imagine how difficult that must be, physically, mentally and emotionally.

When I think about grandparents raising grandchildren, discipline is one of the things I imagine must be among the more difficult challenges; peer pressure and what they see in the media must make that even tougher. But just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. Or necessary. So here’s what I would do if I were you.

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   Image courtesy © Rene Jansa |

This is not optional; you MUST talk to your granddaughter. I truly believe the “sex talk” is not one talk, rather a series of talks that starts when they are young (covering age-appropirate information) and continues on, filling in the blanks as they get older. I am assuming she is not going to want to go here since you mention that you sort of overheard this which is why this step is even more critical. What do you need to cover? The mental, physical and emotional aspects of being sexually active. Your granddaughter needs to know that this sex is not something to be entered into lightly and definitely not something to be pressured into. She should know that hormone-fueled teen boys will say any and everything to get her horizontal and that a boy (man) who really loves her will not stoop to this lame attempt. But having said that…… —>


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

No. No, no, no, no, no! Call me a prude but honestly I think just this side of 13 is a bit young for an intense boyfriend-girlfriend type relationship, don’t you?  The fact that this guy is a couple of years older than her means it’s a whole different ballgame. You see that’s not a big difference among adults but it can be significant when your talking teenage development. So at her age, she may be just getting out of the 6th or 7th grade while he’s a high school sophomore. The wheels she’s worried about are on on the bottoms of roller skates while he is looking forward to driving. She may have just cracked the book on Algebra and he’s well on his way to Geometry and beyond. Do you see what I’m saying? This is a big problem.


Image courtesy of worradmu

Time for you to take a stand and I guarantee, it won’t be a popular one. Given the age difference, your granddaughter’s age and what I remember about teenage boys, I think you have to put the kibosh on this budding romance. Your granddaughter will not be happy because she thinks she knows what’s best for her. But ask yourself this: could she handle herself (physically or emotionally) in a situation where she was alone with this boy? I doubt it. You are her guardian and though she may bristle at times, she needs you (and your years of expertise) to help her make good decisions.

I would try to get her to focus on the future and by that I mean beyond next week. Talk to your granddaughter about what she thinks the rest of her life will look like. What does she want to be when she grows up? Where does she want to go to school? What does she want to study? Try to make the intangible as real as possible so she has something to look forward to. And you might want to look at getting her a mentor. I was a Big Sister years ago through the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program and am a fan. And finally, check out resources that might be of help to you. As I said, you are not alone in the challenge of raising grandkids, so seek out places for information that might make the job a bit easier, like this tab on the  AARP site.

 Whatever you do, it’s time to take action. Talk, talk, talk now so that you’re not singing lullabies later!

Good Luck to you!

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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