8 Tips for Setting Boundaries with (Meddlesome) Grandparents
In an ideal world, children, parents and grandparents would all get along in perfect harmony. In reality, balancing everyone’s different needs and expectations can be seriously difficult. Here’s how to draw the line with grandma and grandpa so that everybody’s happy. Because they may be the grandparent, but you’re the parent.
Be clear about the rules
If there are routines and practices that are important to you (like sticking to the sleep schedule or finishing dinner before dessert), then be upfront about these as soon as possible. (You'll only grow more resentful if grandpa continues to forget afternoon naps week after week.) Be nice and polite, but make sure that you’re also firm and direct about the rules—and explain why they’re non-negotiable.
But don’t sweat the small stuff
Be prepared to let a few minor things go. Nana treating your kid to an ice cream before dinner is obviously not ideal, but the occasional treat won’t mess with your child’s eating habits that much. It’s all about picking your battles.
Join forces with your partner
Stick together and present a united front when dealing with tricky grandparenting issues to avoid either one of you looking like the bad guy. Hopefully you and your S.O. will be on the same page anyway, but if you aren’t, then discuss things beforehand to reach a compromise and then talk to the grandparents.
Repeat after us: Free childcare.
Give something in return
The key to any successful relationship is compromise. If grandparents have agreed to live by your rules when it comes to bedtime, then it’s not unreasonable to give them something in return (like some extra TV time on the nights that they watch the kids).
Talk away from the kids
It’s normal to disagree with your parents or in-laws, but make sure to address any issues when children are out of earshot.
Delegate tasks for big events
When it comes to birthdays, holidays or celebrations, avoid hurt feelings by asking parents and in-laws to help out with specific tasks. That way, you can focus on what’s important to you (like buying your baby’s first birthday cake or christening dress) while keeping grandparents involved.
Grandparents love to spoil their grandkids, but if yours are constantly giving lavish presents you'd rather not receive, try making your requests known. ("Since we're short on space, we're focusing on experiential gifts this year.") They might not listen, but it can’t to ask.