Grandparent Issues

There are two general guidelines for deciding to address a grandparenting concern. The first is to decide if it is a health and safety issue. Let’s say a grandparent spanks, and you are strongly against spanking. This would be considered a health and safety issue, so even if they only visit a few days a year, address it. Speak with them about it and come to some conclusions. If it is not a health and safety issue, it’s better to let it go and allow them to build an individual relationship. When a grandparent is corrected often, they may pull back from the relationship which likely isn’t worth fixing the issue if not for health and safety.

The second is to consider how often they visit or how often the behavior occurs. Let’s say the grandparent gives the child a piece of candy each day. If they only vist a few days a year, this is likely not an issue. If they are your five-day-a-week childcare, this is likely an issue.

You might also weigh intent. Even when it is annoying to you, a grandparent may be coming from a place of love and connection. When you do address an issue, avoid blaming the grandparent. Blame yourself and your own concerns for behaviors, or blame the child and their reactions. Ask for help with the situation rather than blame. If you do address an issue, do this out of earshot of the child.

A mom in our program recently shared how she puts grandparent issues in perspective.  When grandparents visit, she posts a strange quotation on the fridge to remind herself, “gnaw off their arm.” She says this reminds her whenever an issue arises that grandparents are likely the only other people in the world that would gnaw off their own arm to save her child’s life. It helps her to let the frustrating but managable things go.

Author: Dr. Rene Hackney

With a MA in school psychology and a PhD in developmental psychology, I founded and work as a parent educator at Parenting Playgroups. Somewhere in there I trained in the Developmental Clinic at Children's NMC and in the public schools. I have two beautiful, funny children who make me practice what I preach most everyday.

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