Dear Abby: Terrorizing toddler needs to be taught about boundaries

Posted: February 08, 2013

DEAR ABBY: When my 9-month-old grandson, "Eli," comes to visit, I become frustrated to the point of leaving the room, if not my house. Not only must we put away things he shouldn't get into, we must tape shut every drawer and cabinet, block access behind couches and chairs to keep Eli from electrical cords, then constantly be on guard for the "unexpected."

Eli is never restricted in any way, and would never be confined to an "inhumane" playpen for even a few minutes. At the slightest whimper, he is picked up. He's walked to sleep (or taken on car rides to "soothe" him), and his parents literally run to him whenever he awakens.

I'm reluctant to criticize because I know they'll be offended, but I'm aching to suggest they teach the child about limits and restrictions and correct him when he misbehaves. Let him experience being in his playpen or even allow him to whine a little before jumping at his every whim. By the way, both parents are professional psychobabble people.

Am I unreasonable to think my grandson is capable of learning limits with a simple "no-no" and, perhaps, a little smack on his hand? Or should I keep my mouth shut?

- Well-Meaning Grandpa

DEAR GRANDPA: Well-meaning as you are, I doubt that you will be able to convince two "professional psychobabble people" that by not giving their little one limits, they're creating a monster. Rather than allow his visits to upset you, I suggest you visit this family in their own home.

DEAR ABBY: A question was recently raised at a family gathering. If the patriarch of a family is deceased and a man wants to marry his daughter, should he ask permission from her mother?

- Curious in Pennsylvania

DEAR CURIOUS: It would be a lovely, respectful gesture if he did. But first he should be 100 percent certain that the daughter would like to marry him.

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