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Ask Dr. Meg: My Grandchild Doesn’t Want Clothes for Christmas

Dr. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker

My 11-year-old adoptive grandson told me that he didn’t want my Christmas gift if it was clothes.  I told him that was rude and told him to give it back to me then.  His mother, my daughter, told me that he doesn’t have social skills, since his biological mother was on drugs during the pregnancy.  I asked why he has no trouble learning sports, video games and everything else, except manners? I’m worried that she is justifying his behavior, although she said that she has tried very hard to teach him social skills.  Is she crippling him by justifying his rudeness?

-Frustrated Grandmother

Dear FG-

Yup. Your daughter is making excuses for his bad behavior. Some children can have brain damage done by substance abuse during pregnancy that can limit their social skills. Children with Fetal Alcohol Effects or Syndrome can have learning and social issues but many children whose birth mothers took drugs during pregnancy will have difficulties right after birth and then the problems go away.

Whether the child had brain injuries due to drugs and alcohol or not, it still is a parent’s responsibility to train the child to function well in the world. He must learn to work hard, interact with others in a respectful manner and get along with others the best he can. Your daughter may be working very hard at training him but feel that she is losing the battle. Then, when she sees him be rude to you, she becomes defensive. Or, she may not be. You know best.

If I were you, I would continue to insist on good manners from him because eventually, he will learn to respect you. You can’t control what your daughter does with him, but you can teach him to treat you well. If he never learns to respect others, he won’t get very far in life.


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