Pushy Parent Syndrome

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Jeannine is worried that her son, Brett, is pushing his 15-year-old boy, Liam, way too hard. She believes Brett is living out his fantasy of becoming a pro football player through the boy, who is starting to show signs of psychological and physical meltdown under his father’s grueling training regimen. What should Jeannine do?

--Risk alienating Brett by calling him on his behavior? 
--Go right to her grandson with her concerns? 
--Keep mum and just cheer the boy on?
--Other?

The Panel Weighs In

Larry: She should keep quiet. Brett is the father and her interference will not be welcome and perhaps not even tolerated. If Brett cuts Jeannine off from her grandson, where will she be then?

Bridget: Jeannine should sound out her daughter-in-law on the situation. After all, Liam is her son, too, and she should have as much say in his well-being as her husband. She may not have fully realized (or wanted to realize) what’s going on. By laying it all out for her daughter-in-law, Jeannine may gain a valuable ally.

Martin: Brett’s behavior is akin to child abuse, and Jeannine has an obligation to try to put a stop to it. A full and forthright discussion is called for between mother and her adult son.

Wendy: Unfortunately, parents’ ambitions and expectations for their children run amok in so many arenas—musical performance, academic achievement, social standing—not just in athletics. Jeannine should encourage Brett to find out from Liam what he wants. In addition, she should let her grandson know that she won’t think any the less of him if he decides not to continue with competitive sports.

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