Dear Dr. Bill,
Our 17-year-old granddaughter Jordan lives with us because of custody issues involving her mother, our daughter in law. Yesterday she got a tiny nose jewel which can hardly be seen — but she did it without our permission. Jordan’s mother apparently told her it was okay. My husband is furious that she never consulted us. How should we handle this?
The main issue isn’t the nose-piercing, it’s the relationship between you and your daughter in law.
It seems clear that Jordan’s mother has a very different set of values than you and your husband share. My guess is that she is considerably more permissive and doesn’t set many limits with your granddaughter.
Since you mention that the nose-stud is minor and can hardly be seen, it will be counterproductive for your husband to go ballistic over this issue. That will only alienate Jordan and heighten the conflict with her mother.
I think the two of you should meet with your daughter-in-law alone, without Jordan present. Lovingly but firmly explain that you are concerned that she allowed Jordan to get the piercing without consulting you first.
Remind her that as Jordan’s legal guardians, you are responsible for her safety and well-being, and that you are doing your best to guide her by instilling positive morals and values.
If she responds defensively or is defiant, then you’ll need to determine whether or not you are going to allow Jordan to spend time with her in the future. If she’s allowed regular visitation by the court, express your concerns to the family court judge and Jordan’s social worker.
By the way, one resource I’d highly recommend to you is the book “Boundaries With Teens,” by Dr. John Townsend. You can order the book through most online booksellers.
Thanks for writing Julie. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, just click the “Questions” link on the Culture Connection page.