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?

  • 2
    You're the parent and you're responsible. Talk with the grandparents and explain the situation.
    – Barfieldmv
    Mar 30, 2011 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, 2012 at 20:20
  • 1
    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, 2014 at 11:39

5 Answers 5


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.


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 much...my 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.


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.


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.

  • 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, 2014 at 12:35
  • Do you mean that with Mummy present or absent?
    – Alfe
    Jan 30, 2014 at 12:01
  • With Mummy present is worse, without is insidious.
    – deworde
    Jan 31, 2014 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, 2014 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, 2014 at 10:27

In this day and age it is probably unusual for grandparents to "spoil" their grandchildren as they are part of the regular caring of the child. However a child being looked after by their grandparents is probably getting almost constant attention, attention that the child then expects on returning to his/her parents.

Naughty behaviour on the child's return to his/her parents is often the case as the child wants the same attention. If parents spend the first five minutes of the child's return making a demonstrable fuss of the child, (telling them that they missed them, cuddling them, kissing them), and being over the top about it, and leaving their child in no doubt that they missed them and adore them, then they wont have a problem with a "naughty child" on return. The child has enjoyed being with his grandparents, but he has missed the most important people in his life, ie. his parents.

Children misbehave for two reasons: 1. they want attention and 2. they need attention. Give them positive attention immediately on return and you can avoid the negative attention that they will inevitably display if they are not reassured of a parent's love.

  • You forget that children are independent people too. Children may misbehave for myriad other reasons than attention ... Medical issues, a thought out decision that something they want is more important than what they get by not going for it, desire for control/power, really anything that would cause adults to misbehave.
    – pojo-guy
    Sep 22, 2018 at 5:48

You must log in to answer this question.