I have a son and daughter in law who have 5 children , live out of state and are easygoing in their parenting style. A couple of their kids are loud, one is delayed, and two are extremely needy and do anything for attention. Their parents don’t teach them how to be careful and polite, and although my house is not a palace, there is frequently something broken , stained, or damaged by the end of the visit. Any ideas on how to deal with the misbehavior of the kids and attitude of the parents?

  • Could expand on what you'd like to have happen during their next visit, and give an example of the changes you'd like to see?
    – user42851
    Commented Dec 30, 2022 at 7:04
  • 7
    Do the children stay without parents in your house, or are all of the family there? This makes a big difference in "who is in duty for the children and their behaviour" Commented Dec 30, 2022 at 13:51
  • How often do the kids visit you, and for how long, please? Even once a week, how could a stay-over - let alone a shorter visit - be enough to combat/counter-act/correct whatever the tribe is taught at home? I chose 'combat… ' with thought, because that's what will mot likely arise if any of this comes up for debate. Commented Dec 30, 2022 at 22:31
  • I believe that in this situation, in your house, it should be your son who you hold responsible for the behavior of the kids as much if not more than your daughter-in-law. A few questions (not that I don't fully agree with @Joe's answer, I do, but you just added another dimension): 1. Does your son understand how his kids' behavior troubles you? 2. Who is the disciplinarian in their home? (If it's your DIL, she may well need a vacation!) 3. Have you spoken to the two of them about this issue? If so, what was the result? Commented Jan 1, 2023 at 3:43

2 Answers 2


The one and only answer to this is to talk with the parents. Let them know your concerns and ask how they would like to address them.

You are the grandparent, so you’ll have to work within the boundaries that work for the parents. That doesn’t mean your needs don’t matter though - it just means you need to communicate them and ask them how they can help take care of them.

It might mean that you don’t have so many kids over at once. It might mean the parents stay more on top of the kids. Or it might mean that you need to prepare the house some and set some boundaries that the kids can’t go into certain rooms.

Regardless, talk to your son and daughter-in-law and let them know your concerns. Frame the conversation in a positive and constructive manner, and hopefully they can either directly help or brainstorm ideas for making sure you have a good experience with the kids.

  • 1
    Yes, the parents are the key here. I have just seen a few episodes of "supernanny" and similar programs, but my takeaway was that it was always the parents that there were something "wrong" with (e.g. not setting proper boundaries, etc).
    – hlovdal
    Commented Dec 30, 2022 at 16:48

It is your home, your property and your right not to knowingly destroy anything you own..

5 children are a lot to take care of, but that still doesn't exclude them from basic social behaviour. Basic social behaviour (for adults) includes

  1. Not damaging other peoples properties
  2. Not causing problems for other people (i.e. by screaming in their flat and annoy the neighbour)
  3. Try being comfortable for all, including yourself

This varies a lot with younger children, as children of age 2 perhaps don't understand "this is not owned by you" or "if you press this too hard, it breaks". You didn't mention the age of the children, but I assume they're about 4 to 12.

Hold the children responsible (appropriate for their age) and act like you would with your own child. Your house - your rules. As it's hard to enforce rules on 5 children, tell your son and daughter in law to help you enforce these rules. It's okay to punish them if they misbehave.

If you can't hold the children responsible for their actions, hold the parents responsible.

Important: Perhaps your son/daugther in law have different base principles in raising kids, so try finding a middle ground instead of only A or B. All of you should look forward to see each other again in the future.

I've often see children behave much different in different households. I.e. at home they eat well while they smack and crumb at their grandparents' meal. I'm sure it works the other way round as well.

  • 2
    My teenagers are going through the "parents bad" phase, and I am patiently waiting for them to become normal again. At the same time, when they are at my parents', they bend backward to make them happy, clean after themselves etc. Somehow I saw more cases like mine than the other way round.
    – WoJ
    Commented Dec 30, 2022 at 17:14

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