DEAR ABBY: My daughter, "Alana," has a 7-year-old son my husband and I have helped to raise while she got her life together and pursued her lucrative career. "Tristan" excels in school and is a great little man. The problem is, every time Alana gets a new boyfriend, she rushes to make the boyfriend Tristan's "daddy."
The men my daughter chooses are crude, rude and, without fail, feel a need to "straighten out" Tristan. My grandson does not need straightening out because he is polite, engaging and a good soul. The newest guy in Alana's life, "Jeff," told me point blank that if Alana doesn't stop babying her son, Tristan will grow up to be a girl! This man is homophobic, sexist, racist and controlling.
Alana claims she's "in love" and fails to see the potential harm this guy could inflict on Tristan. We do not employ corporal punishment, but Jeff has already said (several times) he would "beat his butt"! What should we do? -- FEARFUL NANA IN GEORGIA
DEAR NANA: Where is your daughter meeting these people? It appears her taste in men is atrocious, and she has serious self-esteem issues. You and your husband need to get across to her how harmful it is for her to repeatedly introduce men to her son as "daddies." Parents should wait until they know their prospective mates well enough to be assured they won't injure the child physically or psychologically.
If Alana insists on marrying Jeff, offer to take Tristan to live with you. If that's not acceptable, the next time Jeff says he'll "beat Tristan's butt" respond point blank that if he lays a hand on your grandson, you'll report him to Child Protective Services.
You could also point out to your daughter that now that she has her life together and a "lucrative career," the last thing she would need is a scandal because she tolerated such a thing happening to her son. And while you're at it, make it plain that trying to "toughen up" a 7-year-old the way this man is suggesting would not only be counterproductive, it could damage him in ways she can't imagine.