How to set boundaries with grandparents

Posted on March 6th, 2018

Establishing boundaries with your child’s grandparents will make for happier relationships. By Lisa Witepski

Setting boundaries for grandparents

Grandparents feel it’s their prerogative to spoil their grandchildren, but while a bit of indulgence is enjoyed by both sides, all too often it can feel as though your discipline is being undermined. How to address the issue without upsetting anyone? Follow these suggestions.

Don’t give hints

Because you don’t want to offend your mother (or, worse still your mother-in-law), you might feel that it’s easier to take a softer approach – say, talking about how dangerous it is to post pictures of kids on Facebook, when what you really mean is that you don’t want your child’s bikini shots – adorable as they are – plastered all over social media. But, giving hints doesn’t help anyone. She’ll probably fail to take your meaning and continue with the behaviour you want to end, starting a cycle of frustration and resentment on your part. Rather, be explicit about what you want or don’t want, and why.

ALSO SEE: Don’t post these 5 photos of your kids on social media

Give them specific tasks

Grandparents reall want to help. The problem is that they often don’t know how. Add to this the fact that you probably have your own way of doings things like, say, the bath, and it’s often different to theirs; and it’s easy to see why their attempts to lend a hand can feel more like a hassle than anything else. The answer? Tell them what to do. If you are happy to do the bath routine but need a little time out afterwards, ask for them to read the bedtime story. Or ask if they can take the baby for a walk while you get some work done. That way, you’ll get some help where you actually need it, and they’ll feel like they are giving valuable input – and you’ll both get to avoid the power struggles.

Relax a little

The fact that you’re still alive, have a job and managed to produce a healthy baby is testimony to your parents’ skills. Yes, parenting techniques have changed since you were a kid, but they still know what they’re doing. And if they allow your little one to watch TV or eat more sweets than you’d like – ask yourself if this isn’t, perhaps, outweighed by the security and pleasure she derives from spending time with people who love and cherish her.

ALSO SEE: When granny is nanny – how to make it work

Keep talking

Remember that your parents have no idea of the challenges faced by our generation – they were able to leave their work at the office, they weren’t engaged in an ongoing battle with savvy marketers, and the smartest thing their cell phones could do was take a picture. Talk to them about why you’ve made certain decisions; explain what’s going on in your family; be honest about your fears. But listen, too: your parents have accumulated years of wisdom, so don’t immediately discard their advice as irrelevant and out of date.