I came across a “Dear Abby” column in the Herald & Review that caused a stir when I read it aloud to a group of friends recently. A maternal grandmother wrote in and explained that when her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter attended a family function, they rented a few hotel rooms. The 6-year-old granddaughter stayed with paternal grandparents, and the grandmother bathed with the little girl in a Jacuzzi style tub. She didn’t see anything wrong with it, and her son didn’t either, but the daughter-in-law certainly did (and so did the daughter-in-law’s mother who was writing in for advice.)
OK, got all that?
This column precipitated a discussion among my friends on everything from personal privacy to child sex abuse to body shaming. The mother-in-law in question said she was not ashamed of her body and there was absolutely nothing wrong with what she did.
I have to say I would be disturbed if that was my child. I do not think it’s appropriate for a child to have to bathe with her grandmother, especially when the girl’s mother does not approve. It would be different if the girl and her mother were from a family that engaged in family bathing or were comfortable with such things but it sounds like they weren’t. Shouldn’t the mother-in-law have at least asked if it was OK? It wasn’t her child. (Of course, mothers-in-law have been known to do some strange things.)
The columnist’s advice was straightforward and vastly different, however:
Dear Shocked: I fail to see what the uproar was about, since the grandmother and grandchild are the same sex and we all come with the same standard equipment. It’s not worth causing a rift in the family — so tell your daughter to cool down and stop making waves.
It beckons another question, too, of course. What exactly is worth causing a rift in your family? How much should you just shut up and take one for the sake of family peace? Every situation is different as is every family, but the ‘be quiet for the sake of family peace’ isn’t exactly sound advice either.
What do you think? Would it upset you if your mother-in-law bathed with your daughter?
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