Times: People Behave Differently, Are Not Exactly The Same


The NY Times ‘Styles’ section has discovered that while some people are one way, others are another way. And this makes some of them mad! (And others less mad.) Because people are… different.

The actual story, “When Grandma Can’t Be Bothered,” deals with grandmothers who, unlike Michelle Obama’s hands-on mom, Marian Robinson, aren’t intimately involved with their grandchildren. And some who are totally disinterested! Take this family:

As for Catherine Connors, before she had her first child, Emilia, three years ago, “My mother put me on notice,” she said. “She told me she was not interested in baby-sitting. She said she’d come to visit but that she didn’t like newborns.”…True to her word, Judy Connors flew to Toronto from her home in British Columbia a week after her granddaughter’s birth. “It was clear she was bored,” her daughter said. “There was a lot of sitting in the living room while I struggled to figure out how to nurse. She said, ‘I don’t know why you don’t just give her a bottle,’ and then repaired to the veranda for a cigarette.”

Apparently these folks are known as “glam-mas,” and because they’ve “put in their time” raising their own kids, feel no desire to bond with their own grandkids. There is, obviously, no happy medium between grandparents who live in and love being surrogate nannies and people who, apparently, don’t really want to know their grandchildren. The article identifies some of the potential areas of tension: today’s “helicopter parenting” can seem excessive to a generation of more hands-off parenting, while in turn grandparents who don’t share an obsessive interest in children’s doings can seem like a personal affront. Then too, some parents apparently resent having to shell out for pricey childcare when their folks are nearby and not doing much. The upshot of the piece is: people are different. Some grandparents are involved, others aren’t, some people are selfish, others selfish, some people are arbitrarily resentful when their families don’t conform to the standards of a First Family of whose childcare situation they weren’t aware two years ago.

We kid, sorta, because it is a legit issue: there’s been plenty of talk about how the economy and the First Family’s example will conspire to lead to a reinstatement of the multigenerational household. But no one doubts that there are people out there who will buck trends, others who will conform, and that all of them are available for comment in the paper. Nor is either hands-on grandparenting or its hands-off equivalent anything new: I can’t pretend I wasn’t a bit hurt when no (perfectly healthy, mind you) grandparent came to see me speak at my college graduation and I had to give my extra tickets to folks with more doting families. But by the same token, my own folks are already stocking up the baby stuff they find at tag sales and have assured me that they’ll be on hand for (completely hypothetical) childcare. People, as we have mentioned, are different. That’s one trend we can bank on. Luckily, so can the ‘Styles’ section.

When Grandma Can’t Be Bothered [New York Times]

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