Grandparent Etiquette?

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Do you remember your grandparents? I very clearly remember mine. I have fabulous memories of pancakes on Saturday mornings with gobs of butter and syrup, I remember 2560935556_d6a5d1cafb_mwatching too many cartoons, playing penny poker and secret candy hand-offs. These are memories that are very special to me, they were days when I felt like I had a silly sort of freedom from daily life. Of course I didn’t, my grandpa was there to be sure nothing wrong, but to me, days and nights alone with him were an oasis from what I saw as the hardships of childhood.

Over the last few months I think I have read 3 separate articles on grandparent etiquette and perused as many or more titles of griping posts against mother in laws.

Grandparent etiquette, my foot. WTF is that?




I get that parents don’t always like what happens at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Especially in today’s world, every mom and dad has a strange desire to control EVERYTHING3334176692_6b77929d57_m about their children’s lives. We have to carefully control the amount of sugar our children ingest and are wary of too much television, god forbid they do something with grandma and grandma that WE wanted to experience with them.

I understand. To a point.

Obviously, if your in laws are allowing your 7 year old to watch R rated movies and test out cigars, you have a problem.

This is not the norm, people. Grandparents only want the best for the children of their children. And honestly they deserve a break from PARENTING. They already trudged through that 20 year sh*t storm with you or your significant other. They have every right to enjoy their role as grandparents and have a little fun before returning your bundles of joy to their daily grind.

Your kids will be OK if they have a little extra candy at grandma’s, or don’t eat ALL organic, or stay up late and watch too many reruns of Looney Tunes.

This isn’t a power struggle.

They aren’t trying to win a parenting race, they just want to spoil their grand babies, as they should. All of your rules and regulations regarding what your kids can eat, how early they must go to bed and rise, how much sunscreen they need to use…these are patronizing and ridiculous. These people raised you, no matter what your issues with how that occurred, you turned out OK.

They aren’t trying tor raise your child, anyway.

They are simply enjoying them, giving them a few memories to smile at down the road.




About a months ago my 3 oldest children stayed the night at my in laws. They were so excited to have a night without us to dictate bedtime and nag at them about chores. I don’t know what they had for dinner but I assume it was something awesome like pizza or burgers, things we don’t spring for that often. They played outside until it was dark and went to bed much later than they should have. Were they a little more emotional and tired the next day? Yup. Did I have to deal with that? Yup. And I would do it again.

It’s not about me, time with grandparents is about my children.

This particular evening my oldest son also got the privilege of watching a PG13 movie with his uncle. This is a move that I have greatly looked forward to watching; one I would have liked to watch with my son and my husband, partly because I am a paranoid mother and wanted to be sure he closed his eyes at all inappropriate scenes. I was a little disappointed that I missed this experience with him. But again, it’s not about me.

He still talks about that night. About how cool it was to watch a movie unhindered by mom, to have special time with his uncle and grandparents and be able to puff out his chest and brag that he saw a movie before we did. Did he probably see more than I wanted him to in that movie? Yup. However, I know that my in laws love him to pieces and would never allow him to do or see anything that would harm him physically or mentally in any way.

4761313036_3bfbeb0a96_mDo your children get more freedom with their grandparents? Absolutely. As they should. They also receive a little more discipline in manners and gain a wisdom they cannot get from you. Grandparents have already been around this parenting block. They have learned where to let go and what to enforce.

Your children will gain valuable lessons from these people.

Reward them by giving them a break with your children. Let them spoil them and send them home tired and strung out from too much sugar. You will survive their moodiness and they will have memories that will last a lifetime.

It’s ok to drop your perfect parent, controlling mojo for just a minute. It’s ok to let go, let loose, and let your children live a little. They and their grandparents will thank you. Don’t wait. Start now. You never know how long they will be able to create memories with these amazing people…time is fleeting. And, let’s face it, the same quirkiness you see in your children’s grandparents will be seen by your children in you someday. It may shift a little or lag in a different place, but it will be there.

I’m willing to bet that when the time comes, you will wish you had given your children the chance to enjoy the special love of their grandparents when they were still here.2187811003_e8c5cf0195_m





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42 thoughts on “Grandparent Etiquette?

  1. Thank you for your post. I read through all the comments and I am glad to hear there are young moms who endorse good relationships for their children with the grandparents. As a grandma who knows what it is to be subjected to strict rules and regulations regarding what I sing, read, give to eat and do with my grand children and all the heartache it causes for me I want to thank each young mom who gives the grandparents the freedom to be grandparents.

  2. This is a really interesting post. My MIL looks after my boys twice a week and she spoils them and lets them get away with a lot. She tells me that is her “role” as nanny and she has the time and patience to enjoy and spoil them. When they were babies I was super strict about their routine being stuck too and what they could and couldn’t eat but now they are older I’ve mellowed a bit and realise she knows what she is doing (most of the time anyway – she once let my eldest have 5 chunks of toblerone in one go!!) #KCACOLS

  3. I agree with a lot of what you are saying. But for someone who experienced their mother give beer to a 9-month-old under the excuse that it’s what we use to do and not even feeling sorry for it afterwards, I don’t always trust that grandparents want what’s best for your children/granchildren and it can become a power struggle. I’ve had to draw up some very strict rules which is stressful and annoying, but so be it for now. Thank for linking up to #KCACOLS Hope you’ll join again next Sunday.

    Nadia – Scandimummy x

    1. There are definitely circumstances that are not appropriate. This is not the norm thank goodness. I wish you luck with your struggles! Big Fit Fam

  4. Great post. I remember the times with my grandparents so fondly – things like getting to paint my nails with my grandma (in glitter polish – INCREDIBLE!), doing the gardening etc etc. I can’t wait for my kids to have the same. I think it’s slightly different when they’re tiny. At the moment they can’t do as much and there are certain things that I really don’t want them doing (giving my boy his first food etc etc). But once the kids are up and running around I can’t wait to ship them off for a moments peace and some great memories for them! #kcacols

  5. A wonderful post. I am certainly guilty of over-constraining grandparents. When my daughter was a baby, the littlest thing would throw her routine and I would be the one to suffer the fallout. Now she’s a toddler though, I don’t need to be that precious and I’m trying to remind myself of that when she’s with her grandparents and extended family who are overhyping her. Thanks for summarising it so well! #MarvMondays

  6. This is a great post! I remember my grandparents as clear as day being very involved in looking after me and taking me out everywhere. Right up until they moved quite a distance away, but then I used to stay with them over weekends every so often and in the holidays. I loved it. Maybe times have changed now, but I wish my daughter could have had this type of experience too. Thank you for linking up to the #DreamTeam xx

  7. Brandi, this is such an excellent — and important — post. I see so many parents exerting so much control (they call it helicopter parenting in the US) and in such conflict with their children’s grandparents that it’s as if they view them as competitors for the children’s affection. Please, everyone, just relax. If the grandparents buy the children more expensive gifts, no worries; grandparents are often more well off financially than parents. There is enough love to go around. The kids can love their grandparents without it diminishing the love they have for their parents; in fact, it can only enhance it. Let the grandparents make beautiful memories for the children (while they can!).

  8. So true. My mum looks after my son two days a week and there are some things I ask her to do which are my approach and not necessarily hers, but she respects and understands that and is fine with it. Because it’s a regular childcare I think I’ve wanted to know that any things which are really important to me are followed. It’s not much I’m particular about! Likewise, there’s lots of things which she does her way and we say that it’s nanny’s rules when she is around. #KCACOLS

  9. Fab post, but I agree with the above comment, they can overstep the mark at times and ignore ‘rules’ we have when it comes to looking after our children. We don’t give them these rules for a laugh, we do it because our children need consistency and routine, so when they’re ignored, it’s no wonder the kids get upset – sorry personal experience there! Thanks for linking up to #ThatFridayLinky

  10. this made me smile as mygirls have THE BEST grandparents on the PLANET. My mom and mil babysit and stay for weekends together and that is so special to the girls. It is also pretty rare. I do sometimes lose my shit with them- and am guilty of many of the above flaws I will admit.
    #KCACOLS

  11. Fantastic post and I absolutely agree with you. Grandparents are incredible and they do their absolute best for our children as they did theirs. There really shouldn’t be a power struggle with parents #kcacols

  12. Must. E great to have grandparents so involved sadly that has bypassed us great post Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please

  13. I couldn’t agree more, it must be amazing to have grandparents who want to be so involved with their grandchildren, not everyone is so lucky. Personally I would just be grateful and grit my teeth occasionally 😉 Thanks for linking up to #PicknMix

    Stevie x

  14. Love this post as I have the best memories of my Grandad in particular. I wrapped him around my little finger. He out sugar in my tea and fed my biscuits. I try to lighten up when my daughter stays at my parents. You are so right in the post – the next day grumps are worth it and the memories made are so important. Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst x

  15. In my first was born I never wanted her having chocolate or juice these are the things she always gets at grandparents and she loves it. Which I think is also the main thing. I just accept it now that she will eat rubbish non stop when she’s there and that’s fine #ThatFridayLinky

  16. Aww I love this view and completely agree! We are lucky enough to live very close to my mum so see her multiple times a week, and my inlaws are retired so they are always here. It means that the only grandchildren (at ppresent) get spoiled on a daily basis and sometimes that annoys me, but you have made me realise that it isn’t the end of the world! #PicknMix

  17. Wow, thank you so much for this post. You are so right and it hit me deeply as well… I struggled with dealing with my in-laws until my realization recently… I think I was too overprotective or maybe just crazy neurotic for the first year of my boys’ life. Now that they are 21 months old, I can see it how you describe it clearly. Yes grand parents are so important for our children’s life. They are not our competition. They are our parents / our spouse’s parents. I trust them. When they were newborn, I really didn’t want anything bad to be given, etc… so I was probably strict but now that they can eat different things, I dont panic. haha.
    I truly feel that the weird frustration and emotional confrontation mothers go through with their in laws is (not always, but usually) in our head. They don’t see us as rivals. they don’t want anything bad to happen for us or our kids. 🙂
    Thanks again for a great post. I will share on my Twitter.

  18. My kids see their grandparents often,and while sometimes how lax they are annoys me I think its so important to have those memories with the grandparents. #ablogginggoodtime

  19. Well said. I admit that it drives me a little nuts when my parents go crazy spoiling the kids when they see them. But they only see the kids a few times a year. How can I say no when the grandparents only see the kids very rarely, you know?

  20. I loved this post. I really, really enjoyed reading it. It gave me some real food for thought, I was nodding my head throighout because so much of what you say makes so much sense. Emily #Bestandworst

  21. Both of my grandfathers died when I was a baby, and I have no memories of them, which makes me really sad. Both of my grandmothers were too elderly to be looking after small children, so my time with them was limited, although one of them would always come and sit with me when I was ill and didn’t want to be alone! She would also tell the most amazing stories, that I would sit and listen to for hours! My children love spending time with my parents, and I’m quite happy with how they look after them-they give them a few extra treats, but generally just do really great things with them, like gardening, woodwork, loads of crafting-just loads of stuff I don’t always have the time to do! Their other set of grandparents have a terrible attitude-they refuse to look after them because they feel they’ve ‘been there, done that,’ and have looked after their own children, and certainly don’t want to be burdened with anymore-also very saddening! I think that’s a long winded way of saying that I haven’t actually experienced the problem of grandparent etiquette, but it’s a very thought provoking subject!!
    #bigpinklink

  22. This has really got me thinking I have to admit. I am constantly watching how my kids grandparents are with them and have to admit to getting a bit cross when they let them get away with things. However, you are right, they have done their parenting already. This has made me re-evaluate how I feel about our parents and our kids relationship. Fab post! #bestandworst xx

  23. Ah, this is a lovely post and so true. I remember staying a week at my Nan’s house during the summer holidays. It was a really treat. After my younger sister went to bed, my Nan and I (then about 10) used to play cards deep into the night. She used to give me a walnut whip when I won. I always won. I have since admitted to my Nan, who, bless her is now 93, that I used to be able to see the reflection of all of her cards in her rather large glasses. I could pre-empt her every move. These are special memories for the both of us. Memories that we wouldn’t have had my parents enforced a 7pm bedtime and no chocolate. Pen x #BloggerClubUK

  24. I love this. You know what, I used to get so angry at the amount of sweets they’d let my son eat or that he’d still be up at 11 at night but this is so true. They simply want to enjoy their grandchildren and they really do want what’s best but they don’t feel it’s really their job to discipline etc. My parents help us out SO much so I’m now trying to better understand. Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays. Kaye xo

  25. I love this so much! I can sympathize with Hayley’s situation, though; I’ve been there where one set of grandparents totally out-gives the others (and the parents, too) just because they can. But I remember those special times spent with my grandparents (funny, I don’t remember the presents, now that we are talking about that), and I wanted my daughter to have that. And I can’t wait to spoil mine grandkids when the time comes!

    1. my grandfather was not “present” guy, it is the saturday morning pancakes and penny poker that left lasting impressions. These are memories that tear me up now that he is gone, not any gifts he ever gave 🙂

  26. Almost everyone looks back on the time they spent with their grandparents and fondly smiles. Why you wouldn’t want to provide your own child with these loving memories is beyond me. Brilliant little post, made me reflect on my memories! #dreamteam

    1. i have to admit I got a little teary eyed writing the post, remembering my grandpa and thinking about the time left my grandmother. Thank you for your beautiful comment!

  27. Yes! I couldn’t agree more. Grandparent time is such a special and important way for kids to connect with their family, history and community – it’s about THEM not us. And if some rules are broken it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes I shake my head about how much candy and nonsense goes on…but it’s all worth it – and it’s not every day, so gotta lay off the control-freakishness 🙂 #bigpinklink

    1. it’s hard to let go of control, i have gotten better with each child i have had, but i still have remind my self that it will all be ok sometimes!

  28. My kids adore their grandparents, and while I don’t necessarily agree with all the choices my mum and dad make when they are looking after them I try and put myself in their position, they are a massive part of my daughters lives and for that I will over look what I don’t necessarily agree with #DreamTeam

  29. Oh how I love this! I want to say so many times, quit robbing your parents of being a grandparent and quit robbing your children of having that special someone that breaks the rules sometimes and loves fiercely. It can be such a wonderful relationship for all parties involved. Love love love this post! #BigPinkLink

    1. Thank you for you amazing comment! The memories are so important for children, and you never know how they will have to make them 🙂

  30. Hayley, I agree, I may have to write another post about how to spoil grandchildren without overstepping boundaries. I believe that grandparents should be able to spoil their grandchildren, and i get so tired of hearing about all the rules parents impost that take away from their fun. But there is a line….and no matter how annoying a grandparent (or a blogger) thinks that any parents rules are, they are still the parent and have ultimate control. both parties should be open to conversation regarding what is fair, it sounds like your sister is on the receiving end of unfair behavior 🙁 I hope that this year will be different, that is a really tough place to be in.

    -BigFitFam

  31. I agree to an extent. Unfortunately my children only have one set of grandparents (my parents) and I don’t impose any of my own rules regarding bedtimes, sweets, etc on them…they’re the grandparents, they’re supposed to spoil them.

    But they do overstep the mark sometimes…not so much for me but my sister is often left very upset after asking them repeatedly not to buy TOO much for her children at Christmas, because they buy so much that it makes the gifts that SHE gets them herself seem cheap…and she can’t afford to spend more than she does. But even though she expressly tells them that it makes her feel like a bad mother when it looks like “Santa” is a cheapskate compared to Nana & Grandad…they don’t listen, and they do it every year without fail. I think when things like that are happening, it’s not really fair…#MarvMondays

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