Many parents look forward to becoming grandparents and often, this job description includes a bit of spoiling.
However, this can come with some differences in discipline styles, and at times, interference.
Here’s how to deal with it.
1. Assess What Upsets You
Take note of what things the grandparents do and don’t do that upset you. Do they allow the kids too much screen time?
Too much junk food?
Not enough discipline? What would you like different and why is it important to you?
From this list, highlight all the things that are really important to you and those you can let slide.
It’s important that you pick your battles and ask yourself whether addressing these things may affect your relationship or your kids’ relationship with their grandparents.
Take into consideration the amount of time your kids are around their grandparents, too, as some issues may be more important if they spend lots of time together.
2. Get Proactive
Instead of reacting to problems, embrace proactiveness.
Talk things over. You don’t have to yell at the grandparents after you pick the kids up and learn they had junk food way more than you approve of –again.
Consider talking it over with the grandparents prior to dropping the kids off or at a neutral time.
And there’s no need to be stern or talk in raised voices.
Aim for a light and casual dialogue. Make them see reasons with you.
For example, you can say, “I notice that the kids come home really sugar-hire after spending time with you.
It would be great if you could substitute foods like candies with some fruits or other healthier options.”
Or say, “We have decided that it’d be best to have the kids participate in more reading and less TV.
Would you help us out by encouraging them to read instead of watch tv or play on the tablet, whenever they are with you?”
Recognise Their Intention To Help
It is in the nature of grandparents to have strong opinions about little things.
From potty training to food choices, to letting a child cry, the grandparents may interject an opinion in lots of places.
Instead of getting worked up and on the defensive, acknowledge their desire to give advice., and say things like: “That’s another way to handle it, thank you.” “Thanks for your opinion, I’ll consider that next time.”
The good thing is that just because someone is offering advice does not mean you have to take it. Regardless, you can still acknowledge their input.
4. Avoid Cold Criticism
While the children’s grandparents may infuriate you from time to time, do your best to be gentle in your approach.
If you have feedback for the grandparents, take some time to process what you want to say and why it’s important.
Don’t go in with only a list of things they are doing wrong or that you don’t appreciate.
As much as you can, bring up also, the things they do right without immediately jumping into judgments or criticism.
Showing that you recognise and appreciate what the grandparents do and say can help them to feel appreciated, acknowledged, and useful.
Thank them for their help and roles in your children’s lives.
Rather than saying, “The kids come home from your house hungry because they don’t like your food” say, “I would like us to go over some recommendations on food to serve?
You know, the kids can be picky sometimes and I don’t want it to be a problem for you or for them.”
Politely talk to them about family rules. Consistency is important for children, so make this clear to their grandparents.
For instance: “We put the kids to bed at 7 pm and wake them up at 8 am, to help them to get enough sleep each night.”
Be clear in your family rules and make them understand why they should be followed.
You can say, “It makes our jobs difficult when the kids come back and want to keep breaking rules at our house.
“It would really help to enforce the family rules and practice consistency for the children.”
5. Work With Your Partner
Especially if the issues occur with your in-laws, don’t handle this problem on your own, if your partner is around. Have your partner get involved in the situation.
When in the midst of conflict with family members, you have to keep a united front. Agree upon what is best for you, your partner, and the kids.
You may find this my article on How To Set Parenting Goals With Your Partner resourceful
And when speaking with the grandparents, consider speaking together.
All in all, remember that the grandparents want to show their love to their grandkids and mean no disrespect to you or your partner.
Because part of what many grandparents look forward to is a little bit of spoiling.
It’s easy to feel like your parenting is being undermined by the grandparents or that they are overindulging the kids. While this may be true, ask yourself, “Is this worth getting worked up over?”
Often, the case is that grandparents are so thrilled to be a part of their grandkids’ lives and show their love a little too much. Take a breather.
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