- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 20, 2008

Q. My daughter is 33 months old and has been potty trained for a year. Short of wiping herself after pooping, she is tall enough to take care of her potty needs without assistance.

When my mom comes to visit, or when we go to her house, she still reads my daughter books while she uses the potty and helps her do everything. Should I ignore this or should I insist that my daughter go through the motions herself?

Mom also wants to sit or lie down with my daughter at nap or sleep time until she is asleep, which we haven’t done for at least a year. All of this grates on my nerves, but I try not to say anything.

My daughter can be needy, and it took a lot of work on our part to get her to this point. What do I make an issue out of and what do I leave alone?


A. On behalf of grandparents everywhere, I encourage you to look the other way when your mother does her “Grandma thing,” whether at her house or yours. I can understand why it grates on you for your mother to do for your daughter what you won´t do and what she doesn´t need done for her, but you´re making much ado about nothing.

Mom is simply trying to maximize the time she has with your daughter. Her being a potty- and nap-sitter has caused no harm in the past, obviously, and there’s no reason to think it will cause harm in the future. Your daughter is old enough to understand and accept that what she can expect from Grandma, she cannot expect from you.

You should by no means look the other way. You should be pleased that Grandma wants to share these special moments with your daughter, and you should let them both know how pleased you are. Then, in the unlikely event your daughter wants you to help with her potty or sit with her while she goes to sleep, you can simply point out that those are special things only grandparents are allowed to do. It’s the rules.

By the way, kudos in abundance for toilet training your daughter before her second birthday. There are few things more absurd than a parent claiming her 3-year-old, still in diapers, is gifted.

Q. I don’t allow my 13-year-old son to watch TV or play computer/video games during the summer. However, he has outgrown his toys and outside of the occasional thing done with a friend, doesn’t seem to have any outside interests. He’s smart, and a good kid, and in football at school.

His sisters one older, one younger have no problem keeping themselves active, so his lack of interest in finding things to do bewilders me. When and how do I step in?

A. Be careful - you are in grave danger of developing Magnificent Micromanaging Mom Syndrome, one symptom of which is an obsessive desire to create the perfect child. The fact is, your son’s lack of summer initiative is not causing problems in anyone’s life but his own (unless, that is, you want to make it a problem in yours). Therefore, it’s his problem to fix or not fix, and he has every right not to fix it.

The fact is, he’s a good kid, smart, does well in school, and is sufficiently active during the school year. Thank your lucky stars! Every single day, I communicate with parents who would give their eye teeth for a child whose only problem was summer doldrums.

As my grandmother was wont to say, “Leave well enough alone.” Your son is well enough, for sure. Your assignment, therefore, is to leave this alone. Go find something to do. Be a living model of how to use your time creatively, and if he doesn’t pick up on your example … oh well.

* Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his Web site (www.rosemond.com).