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When Grandparents Bend the Rules: How Much is Too Much?

When Grandparents Bend the Rules: How Much is Too Much?

Grammy and GrandaughterI get a lot of parenting help and support from my parents. I mean, a lot. My mom takes on more responsibilities than a grandmother should. My daughter went to preschool right across the street from where my mother works, so she would pick Arianna up every morning and drive her to school to save me the trip, allowing me to get to work earlier. My mother also doesn’t work in the summertime, so instead of spending the extra money to keep my daughter in summer camp, Arianna has been living the life at Grammy’s house all day long. Swimming, snacking, playing, not cleaning up after herself, eating popsicles whenever she feels like it…whatever a 5 year old could dream of doing, I’m sure my daughter has gotten away with doing it at my Mom’s house.

I’m not complaining, of course. I appreciate everything my Mom does for me in helping to raise my daughter. The issue is, she just doesn’t see the harm in allowing Arianna to have ice cream before lunchtime, or cleaning up Arianna’s toys so she can play with something else. (Not to mention that once my sister went off to college, her old bedroom was turned into a preschooler’s dream-room – name a toy, it’s in there!) They’ve been taking mini day trips – to Build-A-Bear, Chuck E. Cheese, amusement parks. The real downside is that when my daughter isn’t allowed to have a popsicle before dinner time at my house, it’s a tantrum. I mean a running-up-the-stairs-and-slamming-her-bedroom-door type of tantrum (which I thought wasn’t supposed to start until at least the teenage years!). My house doesn’t have a pool and a huge toy room, so it has been deemed “boring”. I won’t take Arianna to Chuck E. Cheese on a Sunday night when I’m working on Monday morning, so I’m automatically “not as fun” and she can’t wait to be back at Grammy’s house.

Papa and GranddaughterI love that Arianna loves her grandparents so much, but I’m wondering if I’m setting myself up for failure by having her there as much as she is. As all mothers know, grandparents are going to do as they please with their grandchildren. They’ve been through all of the parenting stuff before, so there’s very little you can tell them. She isn’t necessarily doing anything wrong, but I’m finding that I’ve been bending my own rules a little bit in order to feel as though Arianna appreciates me just as much as she does my own mother. And my father? He spoils that little girl like there’s no tomorrow, which is a whole other story!

I’m thinking that once she starts Kindergarten in a few weeks we’ll get back on our normal school year routine and things will be different. But for any of you who have experienced a similar situation, I’d love to hear your advice.

Editor’s NoteWe’re discussing all-things grandparenting on The Family Room Blog this week! Read more posts about grandparents and don’t forget to celebrate Grandparents Day with the special grandmothers and grandfathers in your life on Sunday, September 7.



  1. Sophie September 9, 2014 at 8:32 am

    I too am eager to hear what advice others can give…

  2. maggie June 29, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    It is great that your mom watches your child for you. I have 2 sets of grandparents helping and they should be following your rules. As a caregiver, they are there to help you, not give in to your child’s whims. Spoiling is one thing, but when is it too much? You need to tell your mom when your daughter can have a snack, and what snacks you want her to have. Tell her if there are any off limit activities or things you would prefer to do with your daughter yourself. Its so hard as a working mom, but it sounds like you need to communicate these issues with your mom. I have a simliar issue except that it’s my mother in law. My mom knows what she should and shouldn’t do, but its harder to tell an in law how to watch their grandchild. In those cases, I always ask my husband to get involved so it comes from him and not me.

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