Thursday, July 18, 2024

Doctor Love: Granddaughter, Wife, Mother

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Readers email your question to [email protected]. Your letters are edited solely for grammar, spelling, and length.

Dear Doctor Love,
I grew up with my grandparents, and while I love them very much, it infuriates me how mean my grandfather is towards women. I never see him raise a finger to help around the house. He expects the women to cook, serve his food and clean up afterwards. He often makes comments about my grandmother’s age, her appearance and ridicules her “foolish ideas.” In public he makes crude remarks about pretty girls and rude remarks about women in general. My grandmother doesn’t react when he does this, but I can see that it affects her, and it bothers me.
I’m married and pregnant with my first child—a little girl. I don’t want her to grow up thinking this is the proper way for a man to treat a woman.
How can I maintain a relationship with my grandparents and still raise my daughter to be a woman who values equality and respect in a relationship? What will she learn about love and marriage if she sees my grandfather constantly treat women with meanness and disrespect?
/s/Granddaughter, Wife, Mother

Dear Mother,
You grew up in a time when grandpa’s bad attitude was more accepted than it is now. Still, as a young woman, you were able to see the wrongness of his actions and ended up in a loving and respectful relationship.
That said, it is understandable that you are concerned about your daughter’s perception of a healthy relationship when she is around your grandfather.
It is difficult to cut family out of your life, especially in a town so small and close-knit. You will hurt your grandmother if you take away her grandchild, and she may not agree with your reasons. Old habits are hard to break. She may have put up with it to keep the peace, or maybe it is how her father treated her mother, and she has accepted it as normal in a marriage.
Talk to your grandmother and explain how you feel. Find your voice when your grandfather says demeaning things to her and let him know you are not going to listen to rude talk about your grandmother anymore. If you really want to throw down the gauntlet let him know that if he wants to see your daughter, he will modify his attitude. You can always bring your grandmother to your house to spend the day with her great-grandchild.
You might not be able to change his behavior, but you can let him know it is unacceptable while you are in the house and that you will not listen to it anymore.

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