Q: I have recently become a grandmother. My daughter and son-in-law just had a baby girl three and a half months ago. She is a darling little girl. I love her to pieces. My daughter is a good mother, and her husband seems to be a good father. The problem I see is the way they dress her. First of all, I’ll address her clothing: Everything is pink, pink and pinker! I intentionally went out and found some little outfits that were in greens and yellows, but they don’t ever put them on her. Every time they show up with her, they have her dressed in another pink, frilly outfit. I think that this just starts fitting into the little girl stereotype. I want her to have all the colors of the rainbow so she can decide who she is and what she wants to wear. I have talked to her parents about this, and all they do is smile and say they like her in pink, and that it looks pretty on her. I’ve told them that I don’t mind some pink, but they are just going too far.
I think deep down they are afraid she will turn out like me, a lesbian. Of course they wouldn’t ever admit it. I’m afraid this whole dress thing will just lead to them treating her like a “girl” and not seeing all her potential as a human. What can I do to get them to dress her in a more androgynous fashion?
A: I wouldn’t worry too much about how her parents dress her. As she gets older, she’ll decide what colors and kind of clothes she likes. More important than the clothing is how the new mom and dad parent the child. As a grandparent you can be there for her and make sure she is able to have some experiences that will help her develop into the person she is meant to be. Don’t get caught up in this detail of baby clothes, risking your relationship with the parents. You need to be careful that you don’t appear too controlling with their new child. It’s better to focus on supporting the new parents; all new parents need lots of support, and they will appreciate you for it.
P.S.: You didn’t mention anything else that would lead me to believe that the parents have issues with the baby becoming lesbian. So, I’d let that go for now.
New in town
Q: I am new in town and recently attended one of the women groups that meet for potluck and supposedly get to know one another. I brought a very nice meat dish and was expecting to make some friends. When I arrived – I was a little late – everyone was busy eating and talking to each other. The owner of the house greeted me, told me where to put the food, and then disappeared. I, of course, got my plate and looked for a place to sit down. All the seats were filled, so I ended up standing alone by the wall. No one came up to talk to me or even stopped their conversation long enough to acknowledge me. I stayed about 20 minutes and then, feeling so lonely and uncomfortable and close to tears, I bolted. I didn’t even pick up the dish I brought. I don’t understand what these groups are about. If they don’t want to include new folks, they shouldn’t say everyone is welcome. They should realize that when a new person comes they should be introduced and made to feel welcome. Now, I don’t know what to do. I am embarrassed that I ran out like that because I’m sure they noticed. What should I do now? How do I get my dignity and dish back?
Late and Ran
A: What you described can often happen in groups where everyone knows each other well and have been meeting for a long time. Even though they say they welcome new folks, they don’t have anything in place to make sure that new people feel welcome and comfortable.
You could arrange to pick up your serving dish. When you are getting the dish, mention, in a non-blaming way, what happened and how it felt. Ask for the name of the person who organizes the group and then you can talk to her about what you experienced. You might also try to find someone who knows others and ask if you can go with that person to meet other people.
P.S.: We might all want to think about the groups we’re in, and make sure that we are doing all we can to make newcomers welcome.