Parenting Q & A

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By Gregory Ramey, PhD, child psychologist at Dayton Children's and Dayton Daily News columnist

Edition: February 11, 2007 | Topic: Archive


I have concerns when my 6-year-old daughter stays overnight with her grandparents. I realize that my parents like to spoil their only grandchild, but I think this has gotten out of control. They allow her to stay up late, and eat whatever she wants. I am most disturbed by the way my daughter talks to her grandparents, using a demanding tone of voice that is not allowed in my house.

I know the relationship between children and their grandparents is very important, but I am very uncomfortable with this arrangement.


Your parents are making a serious mistake, and you need to intervene for the sake of your daughter.

It's one thing to allow a child to stay up late or have an extra treat. However, when the grandparents allow misbehavior on the part of your daughter, they are inadvertently teaching her that such language and behavior is acceptable. If your daughter behaves in a similar way at home, school, or other places, she will quickly realize that the lessons learned in her grandparents' home do not hold true elsewhere.

Talk with the grandparents. Make it clear that the expectations regarding appropriate behavior for your daughter must remain the same regardless of who cares for her. If the grandparents are unable or unwilling to follow through, then for your daughter's welfare, do not allow overnight visits. Limit contact to times when you can be there to be sure that your daughter is acting appropriately. If your daughter does misbehave, discipline her just as you would in your own home.


My mother recently passed away, and I did not bring my 10-year-old to her grandmother's funeral. Many of my friends recommended that my daughter participate in the ceremony, but I just couldn't handle it. Did I make a mistake?


You did the right thing. I'm sure that the death of your mom was extremely difficult for you. Such a situation is tough enough for you to handle, without having to focus on your own child at the funeral. While most 10-year-olds can handle attending a funeral, in this case your needs are more important than your daughter's.

There are many things you can do at this point to help your daughter deal with the loss of her grandmother. When you can handle it you can arrange another small ceremony at the cemetery. You can help your daughter express her feelings by writing a letter to her grandmother, or putting up a special picture in her room so that the memory of your mom lives on.


At what age are children able to be left alone for short periods of time? My 11-year-old is very mature, and I feel comfortable leaving her alone when I do quick errands to the store. Is this inappropriate?


A great deal depends upon the maturity of your child, but generally most 11-year-olds can tolerate being home alone for brief periods of time.

Be sure that you go over the following issues: answering the door, not having friends over, having an emergency contact, under what conditions your child should leave the house in case of an emergency, and any other expectations you may have.

Perhaps most importantly, discuss the situation with your daughter to be sure she is comfortable being alone.

Dr. Ramey Gregory Ramey, PhD, is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit and join Dr. Ramey on facebook at

©2010 The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. Columns may be reproduced with the permission of Dayton Children's.


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