Content inspired by this great About.com article on grandparents.
Grandparents can spoil your kids in a good way: by providing love, affection, and time. However, they can also spoil your kids in a negative way: gifts, letting them rule the house, or doing things they know the parents wouldn’t like.
Dr. Ellen, Jason’s mother, used to say “What happens at grandma’s house, stays at grandma’s house.” According to Susan Adcox, grandparent expert, words like that can teach children deceitfulness and lack of respect for the parents.
Here are some ways Grandparents spoil kids:
In the Buy Category
Buy innapropriate things
Buy too many things
Gifts are better than the parents
Buying expensive gifts – electronics
Don’t match parents values
Spend money on things parents think is wasteful when the money can be saved
Food or Consumption
Treats like ice cream or Candy
Here is what needs to be done:
With anything, you need to pick your battles. Are there some things you may not like but can be ok with for the sake of not creating an argument? Also be sure it is the direct parent/grandparent having these discussions. Do not have the discussion with in-laws.
1) Define your expectations – what is the role you want them to play? Have the talk even before the child is born
2) Set boundaries/rules – explain the importance of them respecting your rules. For the grandparent who buys gifts, it may mean saying “we don’t have guns or weapons in our house, I would appreciate you respecting that”.
3) Respect their time /effort – are your expectations realistic? Don’t abuse the resource. Don’t ask them to drop whatever they are doing and watch the child?
4) Make it a combination of fun time and babysitting time – You shouldn’t “want” something every time you call them
5) Show gratitude – Be sure to thank them, provide positive re-inforcement, let them know you appreciate their help
If you have a situation, do this:
1) Use the sandwich approach. Say something positive, then negative, then positive again.
2) Remind – Thanks again for XX. Say what you previous discussed, then re-affirm what you need.
3) If it happens again – “Thanks for offering, but I really want him to be eating healthy”. I’ll just bring him with me. Then maybe try again in a couple days/weeks or whatever the frequency is of these kind of situations.
For every parent who complains about the grandparents spoiling their kids, there are parents who wish the kids got more attention and were able to spend more time with their grandparents.