Sunday, May 20, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Don't dwell on disappointment, but do embrace the joy of son's baby

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Don't dwell on disappointment, but do embrace joy of newborn

Q: My 26-year-old son's girlfriend — of four months — is pregnant. I have very mixed emotions about this, mainly because he just met her, and I do not know her. They work and live across the country. I am disappointed in their behavior. How do I tell my friends the news? I am embarrassed.

Grandmother-to-be

Carolyn: There's a child on the way, and this is your big concern? How to tell your friends?

American adults overwhelmingly choose premarital sex — the Guttmacher Institute says 95 percent, CDC says about 85 to 91 percent. (Amusingly, a few studies peg approval of premarital sex at 60 to 65 percent; being conflicted is a popular pastime.) Plus, birth control isn't perfect, so you have statistical permission not to single this couple out for shaming.

It's more productive anyway to shake off any notions of the way things should be, and start making room for the way things are. Any big concern belongs with the stability of the home that will welcome this baby, and leaving behind your disappointment will position you to provide the invaluable resources of love and acceptance.

If they plan to raise the baby as a couple, then tell your son you stand ready to help however you're able. If he okays it and if you can afford it, fly out to meet the mother. Well, one more if: Go meet the mother if you can do so without putting on a thin-lipped judgy face, because you don't want to get off to a bad start at the grandma gig.

As for your friends, tell them, yay, you're going to be a grandmother! You really needn't elaborate, not even if a recipient of your news acts scandalized. Just say, "He's a grown man, and every baby's a joy."

Re: Grandmother-to-be:

J: There isn't just one "good" reaction to having a baby (whether you're the parent or grandparent). My friends had an unplanned baby and for the first half of the pregnancy, they were dealing more with getting used to the idea than acting like they were super-excited. They kept the baby and are very happy.

The grandmother shouldn't feel like she has to be happy about it. It's okay to be reluctant or have some not-so-excited feelings about the child. What matters is that she takes the remaining five months to prepare for when the child does come, to show it all the love it deserves.

Carolyn: Thanks for weighing in. There's an apples-to-oranges flaw in your argument, though: As the ones having the baby, your friends had the standing to be ambivalent and to work through that without apology to others.

A grandparent has much less leeway. Internally, yes, she's free to validate and work through her feelings at her own pace. Outwardly, though, her options are limited, unless she wants to jeopardize her relationship with the parents and therefore the baby.

Certainly the expectant couple owes it to extended family to be forgiving of their initial reactions and not hold grudges for insufficient displays of joy, but for practical purposes, the grandmother needs to operate with the understanding that expressing dismay at a pregnancy sometimes sears itself on the memories of the parents, and can be really tough to forgive.

Comments
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 21-27.

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 21-27.

American Baseball Championship: Teams from USF, Houston, East Carolina, UConn, UCF, Cincinnati, Tulane and Wichita State vie for the American Athletic Conference championship crown at Clearwater’s Spectrum Field Tuesday-Sunday. $8, $6 senior/military...
Published: 05/18/18
Updated: 05/19/18

Tell Me About It: The kids are welcome, but not the bedbugs

Q: My brother and his estranged wife have three children. I love all of them. They live out of state and send the kids to us for summers. There have always been hygiene issues, like not washing after wet beds, leaving faint urine smells on the kids.T...
Published: 05/17/18
Plan your weekend May 18-20: Royal wedding watch parties, David Koechner, Fiesta Maxima, half off Dali admission

Plan your weekend May 18-20: Royal wedding watch parties, David Koechner, Fiesta Maxima, half off Dali admission

What's happening this weekend in Tampa Bay.
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
SeaWorld joins Busch Gardens in offering free beer this summer

SeaWorld joins Busch Gardens in offering free beer this summer

SeaWorld is joining its sister park, Busch Gardens, in offering free cups of beer this summer. Guests 21 and up can receive up to two complimentary 7-ounce beers per visit at Mama’s Pretzel Kitchen Patio in the park starting Friday through Sept. 2. T...
Published: 05/16/18
What’s in theaters: ‘Deadpool 2,’ ‘Book Club,’ a Pope Francis documentary and STEM movies

What’s in theaters: ‘Deadpool 2,’ ‘Book Club,’ a Pope Francis documentary and STEM movies

CinemaSTEM: Best in ShowTampa Theatre is making science, technology, engineering and math the star of its new CinemaSTEM movie series. The historic movie house will pair popular films with experts talking about some of the science that pops up in the...
Published: 05/16/18
Top things to do this weekend: Royal wedding watch parties, comic David Koechner

Top things to do this weekend: Royal wedding watch parties, comic David Koechner

ROYAL WEDDING: Watch partiesPrince Harry marries Meghan Markle on Saturday; guess how excited we are to put on a fancy hat and drink champagne cocktails at 6 a.m.? With royal wedding excitement at a fever pitch, St. Petersburg’s Hawthorne Bottle Shop...
Published: 05/16/18
Top concert picks this week: Little Steven Van Zandt, Turnt Up Tour, Fiesta Maxima

Top concert picks this week: Little Steven Van Zandt, Turnt Up Tour, Fiesta Maxima

E STREET BYPASS: Little Steven and the Disciples of SoulAsk Little Steven Van Zandt to pick his favorite songwriter in rock — excluding his boss Bruce Springsteen, of course — and he has to think a minute. He admires veterans like Billie Joe Armstron...
Published: 05/16/18
5 things to do under $5: Bike to Work Day, Woofstock, Leonard Bernstein celebration

5 things to do under $5: Bike to Work Day, Woofstock, Leonard Bernstein celebration

1Bike to Work Day: If you’re too nervous to face Tampa streets on your own, seven neighborhood meetup locations have been set up in South Tampa, Ybor and Tampa Heights for a Friday morning ride with experienced cyclists. Leaving at about 7:10 a.m., t...
Published: 05/16/18
Kendrick Lamar and the Pulitzer Prize: Here’s why he’s the best songwriter alive

Kendrick Lamar and the Pulitzer Prize: Here’s why he’s the best songwriter alive

He won. He actually won. It’s still hard to believe a month later, still a mouthful of joy to say aloud: "Pulitzer Prize winner Kendrick Lamar." After three Album of the Year Grammy losses in five years, most recently to Bruno Mars in Februar...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/17/18

Tell Me About It: Sons guilt trip parents for refusing to move

Q: My husband and I, 68 and 61, were thrilled to become grandparents two years ago. We are enjoying our first years of carefully planned retirement in our home on the East Coast.The problem is our sons, who live in two of the most expensive real esta...
Published: 05/15/18