D ear Amy: My wife and I live in a predominantly Caucasian town. I am Caucasian and my wife is Asian. We are raising our 11-year-old Asian granddaughter. She is a wonderful child.
For some time she has been the victim of racial abuse from some kids, and one boy in particular. This boy has called her slurs in front of her classmates.
I have been to the school principal about this, and the boy has been reprimanded. His parents have been notified and he has even been given a two-day suspension.
The problem is that he just keeps it up. School officials have told us they have done everything within their power to stop this but can do no more. Is this behavior illegal? Is there any recourse that we might investigate to help put an end to this?
— Frustrated Grampa
This also presents a learning opportunity for both children. A counselor should work with the offender to educate him about the impact of his actions. In addition to being told that his actions are wrong and unacceptable, he should understand why. He should acknowledge his actions and apologize to your granddaughter, ideally in front of the class.
You should support your granddaughter’s efforts to stand up for herself, but mentor her also to feel compassion and sorrow for a boy who is so ignorant and cruel. She should do this from a point of pride in herself and an awareness of her own strength.
Do what you can to connect your granddaughter with other Asian children, through specialized language, music or dance lessons.
For the last few years, one member of our group has become nearly impossible to reach via phone (no computer/email/cell), and when any of us leaves a voice mail, our calls are seldom returned, with either no reason or some vague or lame excuse (if any) as to why.
She claims her friends are very important, but we are finding that hard to believe. She makes plans with us for lunch, dinner, plays, etc., but often does not show up or calls to say she won’t be joining us. What can we do?
— Upset Friends
Rather than doubt your longtime friend’s sincerity or chastise her for her rudeness and unreliability, you should approach her in an attitude of concern. Her connection to your group might be an important lifeline for her. I hope you will extend it even further, to see if you can learn more about her situation and, if possible, help.
I could have written that letter myself a few short years ago when our daughter was in high school. Turns out, our daughter is gay but did not know how to tell us. She was afraid we wouldn’t love her anymore. She was certain she would lose all her friends. She was suffering with worry and was very depressed.
— Another Mom Who Cares