Grandparents Spoiling The Children? Here’s How To Deal With It
STORY: Priyanka Elhence
21 September 2022
Over-indulgent grandparents are always tricky to handle. Because most grandparents aren’t usually around to see the problems their behaviour creates, they don’t often see the issue in spoiling their grandkids. And while you don’t want to sound rude or ungrateful for everything that they do, you also don’t want your children being spoiled rotten either.
Fret no more! Follow these tips to tactfully nip this problem in the bud politely, but effectively:
1. Be honest with your challenges
We all want the best for the kids, so help your parents or in-laws better understand the problems that they may be unknowingly creating. For instance, help them understand that not too much sugar or exposure to electronic devices by a certain time can result in the child having difficulty falling asleep or having a meltdown before bedtime.
2. Involve them in the solution
It is unlikely that you can ever stop adoring grandparents from spoiling their grandchildren entirely, so simply asking them to stop isn’t likely to get you far. Communicating with your parents or in-laws is a constant, ongoing process, rather than a one-off conversation, as you gently coax them into bringing up your kids in the way you want. Involve them in solutions so that they don’t mitigate your authority as parents in front of your child, but still have enough freedom to indulge their grandkids within the established boundaries.
3. Don’t be manipulated
When you say "NO" to your children, they’re obviously going to try their luck with grandparents to get their way. This is known as triangulation, when grandparents are roped in by the kids to agree to whatever they want that their parents are refusing. Gently persuade the grandparents to see your side of the story and for them to keep your authority intact. Even better, let grandparents take the message back to kids that if the parents have said ‘no’ to something, then they can’t say ‘yes’.
4. Pick your battles
Not every battle needs to be fought and not every situation requires you needing to put your foot down. Grandparents spoil grandchildren in several ways, from constantly buying them toys, allowing too much screen time or sugar, letting them stay up way past their bedtime, and so on. Consider if the indulgence is worth picking a fight over (especially if the grandparents don’t see their grandkids very often), and allow the occasional indulgence. As long as they respect your most important rules, then it’s best for you to exercise a little bit of flexibility.
5. Agree to alternative solutions
Instead of robbing grandparents of their opportunities to indulge your children, come up with useful ways in which they can treat something special and meaningful to their grandchildren. For instance, instead of expensive toys, they could start a savings account for your child or perhaps sponsor their swimming or ballet classes. They could also do something to spend quality time together, such as a day out at the zoo or a movie and lunch for example. Or better yet, they could buy useful essentials such as clothes and shoes or school supplies for your child, so that everyone is happy. If they still insist on buying them toys and presents, then settle on a limited amount that can be spent.
6. Get tough
If none of the gentle cajoling works with your parents or in-laws, then it’s time to actually show them the consequences of them spoiling the kids and why you really need the kids handled in a certain way. Unfortunately, sometimes grandparents may overindulge their grandchildren simply because they don’t understand the full extent of the effects and aftermath. Seriously.
For example, if they see no issue in extending bedtime, invite them over to see how the delayed bedtime and over-stimulation can trigger a meltdown and a host of tantrums. Ditto for allowing too much sugar just before bedtime. But be kind! Grandparents need their dignity too, so don’t berate them, especially in the presence of the grandkids.
7. What happens at Grandma’s, stays at Grandma’s
Even though you don’t want the kids being spoiled on your watch, it’s actually a healthy idea to bring up the kids with the ideology that every house has different rules, and that the rules at their grandparents house can be different. For instance, when they’re staying over at their grandma’s, it’s ok for them to eat sugary cereals for breakfast or watch an extra hour of TV (just as long as they don’t come home with the same expectations). This way, everyone is happy, and it bonds grandparents and grandchildren together in a more special way.