D ear Amy: I am a grandmother, with four beautiful/handsome grandchildren.
Our oldest grandchild is a beautiful, blond, smart 18-year-old girl. We are Caucasian. She is dating an African American and we in the family are disappointed and outraged.
She sees nothing wrong with this. We all have black friends and acquaintances, but dating or marrying African Americans has never crossed our minds.
I know it’s not as taboo as it was years ago, but we just can’t see this happening. We’ve tried telling her it’s not an easy road to travel and that there are consequences with this relationship. Help! She says we are racists. Are we?
— Disappointed Gramma
Dear Gramma: The only thing you note as being unacceptable about your granddaughter’s boyfriend is his race. According to you, he is by definition flawed and “wrong” for your family member because of the color of his skin. So yes. You’re racists.
But don’t take my word for it — ask your black friends and acquaintances what they think.
You state that there are “consequences” to your granddaughter’s choice to date across race lines, but for her the main consequence might be the sad realization that for her grandparents, love really is only skin deep.
Dear Amy: My wife and I are tech-friendly boomers. We communicate with older and younger generations of family and friends.
The seniors want mostly lengthy phone calls and cards on significant dates; most do not have computers or any interest in acquiring them.
Those our age seem to be cafeteria-style: some prefer a combination of phone, e-mail, text; some also do cards, and some Facebook, some not. Younger folks don’t do much phone, but do lots of text, lots of Facebook and new messaging platforms we have yet to adopt.
We find that some members of all generations get peeved when the communication attempts are not in the form they prefer and they are not the least bit shy about telling us what works for them. But it’s hard to keep track of each individual’s communication preferences. The most annoying seems to be those who text and expect an immediate response. They don’t seem to realize that not everyone has mobile phones attached to them at home.
I guess it must be too much to expect that folks would just be appreciative and grateful of any and all efforts to reach out to them, regardless of the form of communication.
Advice and feedback, please.
— Tech Confused
Dear Confused: Your letter describes very accurately the communications crossroad where we seem to be currently paused, blinkers on, unsure of which way to turn. Surely it is somewhat like what life was like in the early 1900s.
None of us can force others to adopt communication devices or styles simply for our own convenience; we can only face the uncomfortable or inconvenient consequences when our own choices result in someone else being unresponsive. This discomfort has pushed many a grandparent onto Facebook (while grandkids seem to have fled for other social media platforms).
I believe that we should do our best to respect the comfort of the generation preceding us. That means that you talk to your folks by phone and that your own kids will occasionally be frustrated because you aren’t available to respond instantly to every text. Your response to this frustration can be, “Oh well, you’re young and smart. I’m sure you can figure out another way to get in touch.”
Dear Amy: You recently responded to “Perplexed in Suburbia” about twin 13-year-old girls baby-sitting, which made me remember my own experiences baby-sitting.
Several times fathers came on sexually to me, including one attempted rape. Fathers drove me home, sometimes after they had been drinking excessively.
I would be very interested to know whether other now-grown baby-sitters had similar experiences. I have a feeling it happens much more than the baby-sitters’ parents know.
Can you ask your readers?
— Baby-sitter Survivor
Dear Survivor: Baby-sitters are extremely vulnerable. Unfortunately, I believe that what you experienced is much more common than most people realize. My own relatively brief experience as a teenage baby-sitter did include some uncomfortable car rides back to my house.