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Should grandparents be free to spoil grandchildren as much as they wish?

A mother has written into an advice column with an interesting challenge; she relies on grandparents to help with childcare but feels they are spoiling her daughter too much.

The problem…

“My mum helps me out by babysitting a couple of times a week, which leaves me free to work part-time. The problem is that she’s making it very difficult for me to bring up my daughter properly. She spoils her all the time (against my wishes) and tries to take over whenever she’s there at the same time as me.

“She will actually push me aside if my daughter needs anything, and if I say ‘no’ about something, my daughter has already learned that if she asks Nana, it will be a yes!

“The odd thing is she used to be really strict with my brother and I, which, while we didn’t like it at the time, worked well for us. We both appreciate the boundaries now and think it’s turned us into better people. My daughter, though, is in danger of turning into a little brat and I’m finding it hard not to lose my temper with my mum.

“I know I should be grateful for her support, but other people are beginning to comment on the change in my daughter’s behaviour. What do I do?”

Trained counsellor Fiona Caine replies that grandparents who say yes to everything can be a very common dilemma and suggests:

“I’m afraid that being a grandparent and spoiling the child tend to go together – grandparents have been notorious ‘spoilers’ for longer than I can remember. They do it because they enjoy it – with their own children (you), they had to do the hard work. Now they can just have fun! That doesn’t make it right, but it may go some way to explaining it. The problem is, as you fully realise, they don’t have to suffer the consequences of their indulgence. Think about how often have grandparents said: ‘And then you can just hand them back!’

“As your mother is supposed to be helping you, losing your temper isn’t going to help you or your child in the long term. Your mum is obviously thrilled at being involved so, somehow, she needs to understand your beliefs about childcare and be willing to go along with them.

“So how do you go about getting her to respect your rules? Simply asking her to stop spoiling your child probably won’t get you very far. You need to find a time when you and your mum can talk things over together without anyone else, particularly, your child, interrupting. If she thinks she’s part of the solution rather than part of the problem, she’s more likely to listen.

“You are going to have to accept that she is going to want to indulge your child sometimes, but explain your concerns about behaviour. Point out what a good job she did in bringing you up and tell her you want the same for your daughter.

“Think about what is most important to you – the basic rules on which you really cannot compromise – and make those very clear, but ask her what her rules were for you as a child too. Getting her input into your daughter’s up-bringing may help to remind her of her own values once more.

“You may have to make up the odd little white lie if you clash over something you feel is important but that she doesn’t recognise as such – unhealthy snacks, for example. Tell her your partner’s family has a history of bad teeth so can she please limit sweet snacks (make sure your partner knows this!).

“Obviously, things to do with your daughter’s wellbeing and safety are not up for discussion. She MUST be buckled up properly in the car and not allowed to sit on someone’s lap, for example. On such matters, you can lay down the law and, if necessary, threaten to withhold visits until your mum agrees with you.

“Finally, your daughter needs to be taught the difference between grandma’s rules and yours. She can learn quite early on that the two different places have different rules, and special treats like missing naps and sweets shouldn’t be expected at home. Be willing to make some compromises but, if your mum refuses to listen to you and your needs, you may have to get tough, however hard that may be for you in terms of childcare.”

What do you think of this advice? After all – in this situation, we don’t know whether the mother’s rules are overly strict or in fact quite reasonable, and she does rely on the grandparent to provide childcare. Grandparents who spend this much time with their grandchildren, are at least in part, also responsible for rearing their grandchild.

Should grandparents be free to spoil their grandchildren as long as it isn’t harming the child? Or should the parent’s orders always be obeyed? Share your views at Speakers Corner. 

Should grandparents be free to spoil grandchildren as much as they wish?

411 people have already voted, what's your opinion? Yes No

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Kay21
3 days ago
0
Thanks for voting!
I find in my family that my grandchildren get too much from there parents and I find that they tend to expect me to give give give just like there parents. I'm not tight by no means but I my grand children no longer appreciate anything you buy them.
AbsoluteMaggie53
12th Jul 2019
2
Thanks for voting!
I have often looked after my grandchildren to support my children and if it is on a regular basis, then I take instruction from my daughter as to how she would like me to deal with things. However, if the grandchildren are just coming to stay for a few days then, unless I am given a very good reason not to, then I will spoil them a little but more with time than objects. Biggest things is to keep communication flowing to avoid unnecessary conflict.
Alicia
12th Jul 2019
0
Thanks for voting!
NO - children need rules and discipline !
MarilynR11
12th Jul 2019
2
Thanks for voting!
As a parent and a grandparent, I feel my role is to support my child in her childrearing. I do spoil my grandchildren on occasions, but would never back the child against the parent.
jason49mac
12th Jul 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
YES - but within ground rules discussed between you and them

Remember your grand parents probably did the same with you as a child.

Additionally this mostly happens when grand parents are "unofficial, unpaid child minders" allowing parents to work or have a break.

I spoil mine when they stay over, but only with time and love, as i respect my children's views on "spoiling" (well most of the time @)
dianellis1
12th Jul 2019
0
Thanks for voting!
Why is one afraid to say that her mother is going over the top with the way she treats her granddaughter - who is the mother here? If nothing is said it will only get worse and will end up will an awful row and no one will come out well
Cullomptmum
11th Jul 2019
3
Thanks for voting!
I am of the opinion that, parents who are unhappy with the care provided by the child's grandparents should find and pay for professional childcare. The grandparents would then be just that, grandparents. Instead of being unpaid childminders.
There is however lots of research outlining the benefits of children spending time with grandparents.
As the saying goes: "you pays your money and you takes your choice".
Free childcare comes at a price.
Daisygirl
11th Jul 2019
3
Thanks for voting!
I have daughters-in-law whom I get on very well with and adore. When looking after the grandchildren I abide by their rules. If I want to spoil them I get permission first eg: it's a lovely day is it okay if I buy them an ice-cream. Can I buy them a new toy. Can they stay up late? Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no. I think the important thing to remember is that the children belong to their parents and not to the grandparents and we must follow the parents' wishes. I know one grandmother who feeds her grandchildren sweets and chocolates and it is very resented by her daughter who suffers in silence as she can't rock any boats.
DebbieG9
11th Jul 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
I am in the same boat as you, and also get on really well with my daughter in law and everything you just said I could not have put better, I always check first with her before I do anything like like you said they are her children, I get the pleasure of spending time with them.
Rosedeb
11th Jul 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
Found the article and the question did not really fit, it is a privilege to be able to be part of grandchildrens lives and being able to spoil them is one of the perks, but this should not undermine parents, there is I feel usually a special bond between grandparents and grandchildren and usually kids understand that not all rules apply when at granny and grandads, but being in direct conflict with mum and or
dad is never a good thing
JillS28
11th Jul 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
In this case it could be different but sometimes i think parents are a tad jealous of grandparents having a special bond. Some parents resent having to go to work and not being able to stay home with their children.
Its a beautiful feeling i get with my grandbabies and i love spoiling them to a degree.
Nothing like having grandchildren if a grandmother is pushing boundries perhaps its time to stay home and look after your children
milpea
11th Jul 2019
4
Thanks for voting!
I believe its all about balance, stick to their parents rules, but bend them a little! It works fine for us x
ElisabethR
10th Jul 2019
2
Thanks for voting!
There definately should be limits on the day to day stuff. Few sweets bit access to the fruit bowl at all times. Yes I do indulge them with the special fruits as well as what is in their home. I indulge them with my time. Reading playing etc. However they have to obey certain rules. Manners and politeness towards everyone and to each other. Basically its a case of 'would you like someone to do that or speak to you like that?' Then its not ok for you to do it. Yes they put their feet on the furniture BUT they take their shoes off when they come in. All sorts of things like that. So not spoiled to the nth degree but lots of fun along the way.
VeraS
10th Jul 2019
2
Thanks for voting!
It isn't fair on parents yes I have grandchildren and yes I have spoiled them at times but not excessivly
Elsiesgranny
10th Jul 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
I have my granddaughter once or twice a week and whilst I insist on good manners, not putting herself or others in danger or being a nuisance or annoyance to people, she pretty much has carte blanche. If she spots a toy or sweets that she likes when we're out shopping, I will usually buy it for her. If she wants to empty my jewellery box, she can (under supervision!). If she wants to water my plants and veg, whilst slopping water on the floors and herself, go ahead! Granny has a plentiful supply of clean clothes and water mops up! If she decides she wants a rocket ice lolly and a bowl of strawberries slathered in chocolate sauce for breakfast, no problem! I would never in a million years done this for her father and his brother when they were growing up, but that's the joy and pleasure of being a grandparent, you can just enjoy them. I want her to have the same happy memories of me as I do of all my grandparents, all of whom were lovely. So yes, spoiling to a degree is fine by me!
Sharin
9th Jul 2019
3
Thanks for voting!
I think most grandparents are sensible enough to ensure that there are rules when they are taking care of the grandchildren, ours certainly get told off when necessary when in our care. However, it is our duty to spoil them with the odd sweet and ice cream (and birthdays, Xmas, Easter, etc)!!!!

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