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Our parents suddenly don't apply their rules in our upbringing to our children. On the contrary.

How should we deal with this? Do we just let it be, or should we discuss the matter. I understand that a grandma role is different from a parent, but still it could undermine our authority or not?

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You're the parent and you're responsible. Talk with the grandparents and explain the situation. – Barfieldmv Mar 30 '11 at 7:27
Oh my goodness I am so glad I am not alone. My mom watches my daughter every saturday because My husband and I work, she is in preschool 3 days a week and home with me 2. She is 2. She comes home from grandmas with no nap, little sleep, on a sugar high, throwing tantrums....we have such a bad time :( My mom let's her do whatever she wants, eat what she wants, when she wants, my daughter is the boss! When I say anything to my mom, she gets mad at me saying that she can spoil her because she is grandma. And it is difficult because I need her to watch my daughter too. It's sad because you hear mo – user2227 Feb 7 '12 at 20:20
Could you expand on what you consider 'spoiling'? What rules do you expect to be applied that aren't? Answerers and commenters alike have given examples, but in your case it's not clear. Excessive gifts? Excessive permissiveness? – SQB Jan 29 '14 at 11:39

The best solution we've found yet is that the grands and great grands aren't allowed to skip the consequences either. No bungee-cord (grand)parenting allowed.

"If grandma and grandpa want to give you that giant plastic castle play set, then it can stay at their house so you can play with it when you visit".

"IF grandma is going to let you skip the nap and eat a pixy stick before dinner, then she can put you to bed tonight... maybe you could sleep over with them tonight."

Worked pretty well so far. Thankfully our parents are pretty sensible and caught on quickly with just a couple conversations like that.

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Quite useful answer! – TheIndependentAquarius Oct 22 '13 at 5:35

Find a balance...

It's all right to have a few special privileges that only apply at Grandma's house. That's a grandma's prerogative.

Being allowed to get away with bad behavior, eating only junk food, not getting enough sleep at night, or getting lavished with expensive new toys every visit, have to be nipped in the bud, fast.

Discipline only works if it is consistent. If a child can't do 'x' at mom's house and can at Grandma's, then it's a mom's house rule and not a generally applicable moral. If x="drink soda on the couch" or "watch TV before dinner", that's not a big deal. If x="wander off at a store" or "hit my sister" we have a real problem.

The sleep/food thing is, I hope, self-explanatory for health reasons.

As for the spoiling with gifts problem... this one caused a lot of conflict with my parents, but in the end they came to respect my wishes. My son, after an extended stay with my parents when he was a toddler, developed the expectation that going into any store necessitated buying him multiple treats, and that pouting and sulking and demanding would get him anything I was resistant to.

This made life miserable for me and for him. He was set in the idea that he "needed" every freaking thing that was in a commercial, and shopping with him was always a nightmare. It wasn't even that he liked all the trinkets so behavior was just so outside his new expectations that it was extremely stressful.

Once my mom finally toned it down, she realized that yes, it made life more pleasant for everyone including her grandchild.

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I think it depends on the child's exposure level to the grandparents. In my experience, grandparents tend to spoil more when they see the child less. When they have a more active care-taking role, they usually stop spoiling.

Yes, you should always have open discussions with everyone that your child is close with on a regular basis on how you want your child treated, rewarded, and disciplined. This includes teachers, care takers, and your spouse / partner.

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I don't think spoiling is the correct word because a normal child is well aware who it is who is allowing things or giving presents etc. A normal child will sooner or later notice that there is a difference in the way various people treat it and what kind of reactive behaviour is accepted and what kind is not.

This is also a lesson to be learned in life, so I won't call it spoiling. It is more an exposure to a normal life situation a child will and should be able to deal with.

Only dangerous things (careless crossing of streets in cities, touching ovens, fiddling power sockets, etc.) and unhealthy ones (smoking, drinking, maybe even staying up late) should be avoided of course. In these cases treat your parents with the same consequence as you should treat your child.

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The issue here is not so much that her daughter will be aware that she gets different treatment from Grandma, as that her daughter will totally abuse that situation, as any small child would. There's no problem with "Grandma always gives me sweets"; there's a problem with "Grandma supports me not doing what Mummy says, secure in the knowledge that when I go right off the rails, it'll be Mummy's problem." – deworde Jan 29 '14 at 12:35
Do you mean that with Mummy present or absent? – Alfe Jan 30 '14 at 12:01
With Mummy present is worse, without is insidious. – deworde Jan 31 '14 at 10:17
With Mummy present she should enforce what she decided, in question by sending Granny away. (Even old people can learn ;-) But if Mummy is absent, then I'd say what I wrote still applies. Children will learn that other rules apply if Granny is in charge — without being spoiled by that. – Alfe Jan 31 '14 at 10:25
I'd always vote for educating a child to the point where it can behave properly (it is spoiled if you don't give it the ability to do that), but I have no problem if a person is also able to abuse other people. After all we don't want to train a dog but raise a decent human being which should be able to decide herself or himself which way to choose. – Alfe Jan 31 '14 at 10:27

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