Ask Dr. Tim: ..she has turned into a “she-devil”.

Ask Dr. Tim: ..she has turned into a “she-devil”.


I am a grandmother of two older elementary school age children. One of them seems to be coming out of control. My daughter and family only live a few blocks away and hence there is easy access between our two families. The oldest granddaughter has now entered puberty. The once charming little girl who could not get enough of me has turned into a “she-devil”. Not only is she quick to blast anything I might do which is “old fashioned”, her dirty young mouth spews obscenities to every member of the family. It is nothing for her to go into a rage over the smallest slight at the dinner table. She then starts with the four letter words and has even thrown her plate of food at her younger sister. I am feeling hopeless about what to do in these situations. Frankly there are times I want to slap her but I am assured that could result in a visit from Child Protective Services.

Feeling Hopeless



Dear Feeling Hopeless. Certainly you have provided us with a situation that no grandparent or parent would ever like to visit. After all grand parenting is “suppose” to be about baking cookies and going fishing, right? Wrong! While that is true for part of the people, part of the time…it just ain’t so for the all the people, all the time.

BTW positive aging isn’t about having life be rosy all the time. It is about knowing how to navigate through the storms. In the case of this family, your granddaughter may be in the middle of a hormonal storm, which will hopefully pass sooner than later.

However, her behavior may also be an indicator of problems in the family system. Children often reflect issues, which the family as a whole is experiencing. An obvious question at this point is; how are the parents responding when your granddaughter acts out? At the least, this calls for calm assertive responses and boundary setting, if not some family counseling. It is also important for your two households to work together as a team and have a concerted approach. If she is getting mixed messages from her parents and you, it only adds to her inner confusion and conflict.

Dr. Tim

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