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8 Ways Grandparents Spoil Kids—and How to Stop It
by Mike Spohr
| Posted 1 year ago
Grandparents play a very special role in our kids’ lives, but they’re also famous for overindulging them. This can wreak havoc in our homes after grandma and grandpa leave, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are 8 common “grandparent problems” and how you can fix them.
They buy your kids too much stuff
In the eyes of a grandparent a child can never have too many stuffed animals.
Solution: Discuss your child’s needs
You’re not going to stop grandparents from buying their grandkids stuff, but you can influence what they buy. When I mentioned to my mom that my daughter needed shoes for school, she sent her home with a new pair of shoes instead of yet another stuffed animal.
They treat your kids to lots and lots of ice cream
Remember when we had to beg our parents for ice cream? These days they hand it out more than the Good Humor Man!
Fix: Adjust portion size
Instead of telling your parents not to give your kids ice cream (and killing all of their fun), ask them to give your kids smaller portions, or to go out for frozen yogurt instead.
They allow your kids to not eat their meals
This one is especially annoying for those of us who were forced to sit at the table until we’d finished every last bite!
Solution: Lower the bar on what you want at mealtime
Let grandparents know that you don’t expect them to fight with their grandkids about eating vegetables, but that you do expect them to make sure your kids eat something, even if it’s just a fun food like mac and cheese.
They ignore your rules
It’s hard to believe these are the same people who said, “As long as you’re living under my roof you will live by my rules!”
Fix: Remind parents of their own parents
Remind your parents how annoyed they were when your grandparents ignored their rules. This will help them to see the situation through your eyes and hopefully do things differently.
They accept disobedience
When we talked back to our parents as kids there was Hades to pay, but now that they’re grandparents they just pretend it didn’t happen!
Fix: Meet halfway
Grandparents often accept disobedience because they don’t want to be a tough disciplinarian with their grandkids. Let them know that if they don’t want to be tough, a sweetly said, “It’s not OK to talk like that,” will help you a lot more than if they ignore it.
They let your kids watch too much TV
Grandparents will let their grandkids turn into couch potatoes while watching “Small Potatoes!”
Solution: Motivate your kids to go outside
Try sending your kids to your grandparents’ house with outdoor toys, like a new soccer ball or some bubbles. That way when your grandparents ask your kids to go outside and play they’ll be more likely to listen.
They allow them to stay up past their bedtime
Grandparents love to get in as much cuddle time as possible, even if that means letting their grandkids stay up past their bedtime.
Solution: Let them see the aftermath
Communication as always is the first step in fixing these problems. However, if that doesn’t work one trick that a family therapist probably wouldn't recommend is to pick up your kids later than usual after a night with your parents. That way they’ll see first hand how cranky your kids get after a late night!
They don’t back you up against kids
“Come on, dad,” my mom will say after I’ve told my daughter she can’t have ice cream because she acted poorly at dinner. “It’s just a little ice cream!”
Solution: Remind your parents of when you were a kid
Remind your parents of a time when you acted poorly in public and thoroughly upset them. The more you can do to put them in the “parents” mindset instead of “grandparents” mindset, the more likely they will be to back you up.