Dear Ann Cannon: • My 20-year-old grandson is involved in his first serious relationship. The young woman is fairly obnoxious, lacking in any social graces, and has a painful lack of self-awareness. My large extended family does their best to tolerate her and are polite whenever we all get together. However, she showed up at Easter dinner in a blouse that was cut down to her navel with most of both breasts exposed. When she first arrived, I thought she was having some kind of wardrobe malfunction, but quickly realized she meant to dress like that.
My preteen and adolescent grandsons were sneaking glances all day while the girls in the family were all laughing at her. My first reaction is to ignore the incident, but now I’m wondering if I should say something to her? I mean, she obviously doesn’t know any better and if I don’t say something to her, who will? But if I do say something to her, I’m sure there will be a permanent wedge in our relationship and my grandson does seem pretty serious about her.
— Tired of So Much Cleavage
Dear Tired • It would indeed be lovely if a caring individual could kindly drape an arm over this young woman’s shoulders and explain to her the “skin” isn’t necessarily the best look for every occasion. I just don’t think that individual can be YOU — at least right now. Or maybe ever. Your sense that doing so would drive a wedge between her and you is spot on. It could also drive a wedge between you and your grandson, frankly. I can totally promise you he’s waaaaaay more Team Girlfriend than Team Grandma right now.
If this relationship lasts and this young woman asks you for fashion advice, feel free to give it then. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. Continue to treat her with kindness and hope for the best.
Dear Ann Cannon • I have a strong, unsettling suspicion that my brother’s son and his wife are anti-vaxxers. When I asked my brother if his grandchildren have been vaccinated, he said he didn’t know for sure. I’m concerned about this for many reasons including the fact that we’re having an extended family reunion this summer where there will be elderly relatives and new babies in attendance — in other words, populations that are susceptible to getting the measles.
I don’t want to offend my nephew and his family and make them feel unwelcome. But I want to know what’s going on. What do you think I should do?
— Suspicious Aunt
Dear Suspicious Aunt • If it were me, (I hope) I’d speak directly with my nephew. I’d express my affection for him and his family. But I’d also let him know that I’m worried about the vulnerability to the growing measles outbreak of some of the individuals who will be present at the reunion. Measles, which can be truly problematic for babies and older people, have a long incubation period. This means your nephew can’t guarantee that his children won’t be contagious.
Parents, of course, totally have the right not to vaccinate their children. But they also must realize that their decision not to vaccinate may have unintended consequences.