19 answers

Grandma's Relationship with Child

I have a 4-year-old, only child daughter who is also the only grandchild. She is very attached to my mother and wants "privacy" when visiting with her. In other words, she doesn't want anyone else around! I am firm with her about letting me visit with my own mom, but my mom has no backbone. I am always being sent to "rescue" my mom who is being "trapped" by her grandchild. She just lets herself be bossed around. I am not always going to be there. What if she is babysitting while my husband and I are on vacation? I feel that she needs to learn to set boundaries. My dad's attitude is, "What is she supposed to do, make her cry?" Am I right that my mom needs to establish her boundaries in her relationship with her grandchild, or is it my responsibility to always step in? I thought that visits with grandparents were supposed to be a BREAK for parents, not added stress!!

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So What Happened?™

Thanks to everyone for the good suggestions. I think I will take one person's advice in particular and work on a game plan with my mom on how to handle my daughter to make visits more pleasant and to be consistent so that my mom follows through with what I tell my daughter, Beatrix. I should have mentioned that my parents live over 2 hours away, so Beatrix really misses her grandma and gets very excited and over-stimulated when she sees her. My mom gets isolated away from everyone else because Beatrix wants privacy. So therein lies the problem. It's not that Beatrix misbehaves in general. It is just their particular relationship. Thanks again!! R.

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You are the parent, you set the rules and boundaries with anyone, even grandma. Grandparents are a wonderful thing and I'm grateful that my kids have contactwith both sets, however, they all know the rules and they are not to be broken, no matter what. This sits well with my parents, although not always with my husbands. BE FIRM.

We had/have the very same issue with my husbands mother and children. I am the step mom, (we have custody and always have). His mother has let and continues letting the girls do whatever whenever they want. As long as it isn't bad or something we are against we let it happen. It used to be when the girls would stay the night and not be so nice she would call me to tell me to talk to the girls, I used to step in, now (starting about 7 yrs ago when the girls were about 8 and 10) I would tell her they are with you, handle it. I told her she needs/needed to let them know when they were younger that talking that way or acting that way wasn't and isnt acceptable. She let it go and continues to let it go. Not my problem. My children know how to behave and be respectable to my parents and everyone else. Now, they only call her when they need something or want something. She gets really mad, however, I tell her she could have rpevented all of this if she would have had a backbone when the children were little. She likes to be the GOOD GUY, let us know that as well as the girls. Now, she is the one dealing with it all on her own. I don't step in and neither does my husband.
I know this seems harsh, however, I am not going to step in because the gramma wants to be the good guy and let them get whatever they want. She created the monsters at her house, and it stays at her house.

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I thought some of the responses you received were a little judgmental, particularly based on the information you got. Jealous of your kid? I think not. I know what you're going through. And it's not easy to set the rules as the parent with the other adult involved allows them to do it anyway. My grandmother will do whatever my daughter asks, no matter what it is. It's a pain in the butt to have to continuiously have to step in, despite the fact that the ADULT should be able to say I'm sorry honey, not right now. I've gotten to be like another responder and I DON'T step in anymore. My daughter isn't a brat, doesn't need counseling and in general is extremely polite but she KNOWS that my grandmother will just do whatever she wants, and this includes after I've told my daughter no. Sometimes, it's actually not the parents fault. I don't know why so many were quick to jump on you as if you are purposefully creating this situation and it's a part of the reason I don't normally post with requests for myself. It's hard enough to be a parent and try to do the right things when you have strangers on the internet treating you like an idiot. Sorry just my two cents. Hope you find something that works for you, your mom and daughter.
J.

2 moms found this helpful

I think it's up to your mom as to whether or not she sets boundaries. BUT it's also up to her to deal with the consequenses of not setting boundaries if that's what she decides. You shouldn't have to step in when they spend time together.

1 mom found this helpful

R.,
Your mom definitely needs to set boundaries. Your dad
needs to help set those boundaries too, it won't hurt your
daughter is she has to cry sometimes. I would definitely
try to get this straightened out now, because the long you
wait the harder it will be.

K.

1 mom found this helpful

It sounds like you are getting a break when you are there -just too much of one. I agree it is up to you to set the boundaries, as Grandparents (can and should set some) they are also done raising children, Grandchildren are supposed to get special treatment from their Grandparents. I don't think that your daughter should get her all to herself (or trap her) as you put it, but I do think that it is very important for them to have time alone together and it is nice they have a special bond. As your daughter grows up she will outgrow this and your mom will likely miss it and cherish the memories.

1 mom found this helpful

It's grandma's responsibility to set boundaries that you and your husband agree with. It's no different than when they were raising you. They wouldn't let you boss them around, when you were a child, so why let the grandchild? Grandma needs to get over the fact that she might make her grandchild cry. Yep, it's gonna happen from time to time. But if your child knows that she can push her around, visits will never be enjoyable and their bond will suffer. Sit down, without your daughter there, and lay it all out for your mom. Come up with a plan that she can put into motion when your daughter becomes bossy or demanding, and tell mom that she has to follow it, no matter what the reaction. After a few times, your daughter will get the idea.

1 mom found this helpful

It is your mom's responsiblity to set the boundaries. It is not your job to rescue your mother. And tell your father "yes" if it makes the child cry deal with it. I am sure they set boundaries for you and made you cry and survived it.

1 mom found this helpful

Set the boundaries now when she is 4. Your Mom & you are the adults. Adults make the decisions. Teaching boundaries is so very important. You do not want your daughter to grow up & only relate with people she can control. She will always lose friends. I am a mental health counselor(13+yrs) & I see the "lack of boundaries" problems at the adult end, adults that have a very hard time relating to others. Remember that empathy is very important for your daughter to learn & develop. It sounds like you have it. Empathy is key to any relationships, especially close ones.

Define to your daughter how visits at grandma's are to be, what you expect from her end. Stick to it even if she gets angry. If she gets angry take her aside 1. ask her what she wants & listen to her, 2. tells her you understand why she is angry & resay part of what she just told you, tell her the guidelines to the visiting again & stick to it ie."if you cannot let Mommy & Grandma talk now then we will have to go home now". Very important--make sure Grandma is on the same page & goes with the plan. It's OK for Grandma to repeat the things you said. This may take a few times but it will work.

Doing this teaching will help her prepare how to behave in school with teachers & other kids.

The answer to your question is that ALL significant adults in your daughter's life are responsible in teaching her healthy & social boundaries. Your Dad could help by just saying to her "I would like you to do what your Mom & Grandma have told you to do." Be on the same plan together every time. Firm & enforced boundaries along with always acknowledging your daughter's feelings.

1 mom found this helpful

I am not sure if grandma feels cornered or if you feel they have a closer relationship then you do with your daughter. It almost sounds that way. My grandson's know they can come and talk to me about anything. I don't feel taken advantage of. On the flip side I miss them when they aren't here for a few minutes everyday. I get asked to drive them allot. It up sets my son too but I tell him I will not always be here. My docs will tell you I should honestly be dead. Last year in Oct I should have died but did not. I think I am still here to help with all 3 of them. They are the only things I have to live for now. If she wants her to back off let her be the one to say so. If she does then yes she needs to get a backbone. The boys know if I say no there is a good reason.

1 mom found this helpful

That's funny, my mother in law is the same way. She never says no to the kids, and will sit and play with them for hours! At first, I felt bad, but after a while I began to realize that if she REALLY didn't want to, she wouldn't, and that was when I let it go. Your mom is a grown woman, who has raised children of her own. She doesn't need to be told how to manage her time with her grandchild, she just needs to do it. I wouldn't get involved at all. When she gets really tired of it, just say "Well, tell her you want a break" and let your mom handle it. Believe me, you do NOT want your daughter to think it's your fault that grandma stopped playing with her!!

1 mom found this helpful

Your Mom really needs to set boundries for your daughter and if that upsets your daughter so be it.A few tears soon disappear and they learn RESPECT.Grandmothers are very special people they love and nurture us unconditionally but they still must have a firm grip on saying yes or no to a childs wants verses needs.I was the only grand child for 2 1/2 years and I remember Grandma and Grandpa doing a lot of stuff with me.Sadly I lost my last grandparent a few years ago, he was 93 years old and I would still call him weekly and talk on the phone to him and sometimes drive 6 hours one way to spend a week end with him even if it meant all I did was clean his house and prepare a few good meals.My grandparents encouraged my love of hunting, fishing, gardening and being self reliant.One Grandfather taught me about my native American heritage and I worked his saw mill with him for fun, to me it wasn't work it was Quality time.He also taught me about wood working and building things, I can do just about anything a man can do.The other Grandfather taught me about gardening and hunting and being good at what ever the challenge was.Oh and the stories of the depression and how they raised extra large gardens and my Mom and Aunt would pull a wagon around town and sell fresh produce and then at the end of the day the family down the street with 9 or 10 kids got what ever was left over free just to be neighborly.All of those values are instlled in me, I recieved my best education from my Grand parents and the way they survived when many had to go without. My grandmother used flour sacks and made my mom and her sister dresses that matched.They taught me not to waist things and to never steal but to always give from my heart.I never knew we were concidered poor as we always had everything we needed/not wanted. I was taught if I really wanted something I had to earn it.Even a 4 year old can learn many lessons from Grand parents and RESPECT is one of the most valuable ones.
Parents get a break every night when they tuck their little angels in bed and then can have their time.Vacations are made for family's not adults only. Just my opinion.

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter also likes to have alone time with Grandparents; I just thought it was because she has three siblings at home :) I believe it is up to the adult you leave in charge of your daughter to set the boundries. That is going with the assumption that the parent is raising thier child to respect and listen to the adult in charge. With my children I tell them they have to listen to all of the adults in their life weather I am there or not. It sounds to me like your daughter is testing her grandma and her grandma is stuck in the position of wanting to be the kewl/good grandma and let the little darlings do whatever they want. Grandma needs to set the rules and be firm about them and all of her grandchildren will still enjoy coming over. And, yes Children cry, they gain sympathy that way (you know the kind of 'cry' I mean, it is more like a whinny whimper) and use it to get their own way! Best of Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Okay, hold on a sec....we all know that kids will react differently with us around versus when we are not around.

Have you confirmed she is the same way (bossy, etc.) when you aren't there?

Maybe your mom doesn't feel comfortable disciplining her with you there? My mom doesn't....but she does set boundaries when I'm not there. I think that is natural. Why would she want to over-step your parenting in your presence?

There may be more boundaries than you think when you aren't there. Leave her for a few hours...your mom is obviously an adult (and has your dad there too sounds like)...doubt a few hours will harm your mom...I mean, she's made it this far in life, right?

Good Luck and stop sweating the small stuff....

First it is your responsibility to parent your child so you need to put a stop to this also. Your mother needs to tell her no also. But to be honest. I think perhaps little miss bossy might need to talk to a counselor. I know we hate to hear this but it sounds a lot like another situation I know. If you and your mother putting down rules and boundaries around this do not work I would suggest a counselor. But it is your child and your responsibility also not just your mothers.

You are the parent, you set the rules and boundaries with anyone, even grandma. Grandparents are a wonderful thing and I'm grateful that my kids have contactwith both sets, however, they all know the rules and they are not to be broken, no matter what. This sits well with my parents, although not always with my husbands. BE FIRM.

yes and you know what youare are going to have to parent your parent... lay down the law that if your mom does not set thee boundaries she can not have __susie__ over to play anymore. we will visit together at a neutral site and there will NOT be anymore unsupervised visists grandmas are a vital part of raising your child. But they must help yout o raise...in that they set rules, ( and sometimes allow the kids to break them,) they establish a loving trusting relationship... not a boss and be bossed and theya re NOt to be walked on by your kids but repected. grandma needs to amke her cry YES because she loves her adn does not want her to grow up to be a brat and an embarassment to her .... maybe that will work. stand strong mom

R., Why are you letting Beatrix run the world? First you want us to tell you that you are right and GreatGrandma is wrong about Beatrix and homeschooling. Now we have to tell you that you are right and Grandma is wrong about not setting boundaries. Hmmm. Did GreatGrandma not teach her daughter the Grandma how to set boundaries? Who is running this show? Why is Grandma afraid of telling Beatrix NO? That is part of being a Grandma adult - teaching the babies that there are boundaries. If you only give them everything they want so the babies don't cry, you are ACTUALLY ruining them by not teaching them boundaries. Time for your mom to step up to the plate. Time for you to step up and tell Beatrix that if her behavior at Grandma's does not improve, she cannot go there as often until her behavior improves. Be careful who is running this child's life. Maybe that is why Greatgrandma wants her in preschool - to be one of MANY in a classroom, and learn how to be part of a group rather than the ruler of the world. And,until your mom develops the ability to tell Beatrix NO, you should limit contact. Just because Beatrix WANTS 4 chocolate ice cream cones, doesn't mean she SHOULD have them. If your mom can't say NO,then time for you to step up.

We had/have the very same issue with my husbands mother and children. I am the step mom, (we have custody and always have). His mother has let and continues letting the girls do whatever whenever they want. As long as it isn't bad or something we are against we let it happen. It used to be when the girls would stay the night and not be so nice she would call me to tell me to talk to the girls, I used to step in, now (starting about 7 yrs ago when the girls were about 8 and 10) I would tell her they are with you, handle it. I told her she needs/needed to let them know when they were younger that talking that way or acting that way wasn't and isnt acceptable. She let it go and continues to let it go. Not my problem. My children know how to behave and be respectable to my parents and everyone else. Now, they only call her when they need something or want something. She gets really mad, however, I tell her she could have rpevented all of this if she would have had a backbone when the children were little. She likes to be the GOOD GUY, let us know that as well as the girls. Now, she is the one dealing with it all on her own. I don't step in and neither does my husband.
I know this seems harsh, however, I am not going to step in because the gramma wants to be the good guy and let them get whatever they want. She created the monsters at her house, and it stays at her house.

Being a grandmother of a 2 yr old, I understand how she feels about letting the child be the boss. But, I am with you that she needs to set some boundaries, because kids will take advantage. I don't know what your child is making her do or not do that she needs to, but maybe you mother just enjoys doing what her granddaughter likes to do.
Is this happening when you are there? If she doesn't want you around when you are visiting, then grandma needs to say, "I want to see your mommy too this time. We'll have are private time another day."
Unfortunately, when you are the parent, you have to be the "bad guy" around grandparents. That's part of the joy of grandparenting.

You know she is YOUR child. Maybe while you are there she is not comfortable disciplining your child, as I am not comfortable doing it with someone elses child. It is not your mom's rsponsibility to correct her while you are there. If she is babysitting for you, that's another story, but still it is up to your husband and yourself to teach her how to behave at someone elses house, grandmother or not. I think you may be like somone I know who will come over with her kids and let them run all over my house and then she will ask me, " Are you okay with them doing that"?, as they destroy my house rather than make them behave in the first place!

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