September 19, 2011,
C.S. asks from Lakeland, FL on September 29, 2008
Grouchy Grumpy Grandfather
Does anyone have experience with their parents (mom or dad) being too harsh with their grandchildren? My father has always been an intolerant person, but this always seemed mostly towards adults. I have an 8yr old son that has some typical behavior problems (takes too long to eat, interrupts people, etc. etc.) that my dad feels the need to harshly correct whenever we're around him. My son is also very sensitive and I can tell it hurts his feelings (I think he wonders if his grandpa likes him). None of my son's behavior "issues" are anything out of the norm though, very typical in every 8yr old I've ever encountered. If anything, my son is better behaved than most (this is according to every other adult we have been around). And of course we correct him ourselves when we feel it's appropriate.
I tried addressing this with my dad this past weekend but he didn't stop and quite frankly I don't think he even realizes how harsh he is most times. He was very hard on me growing up, to the point where I eventually thought I couldn't do anything right. I don't want to see this continue through the family because while I'm over it, my son is much more sensitive than I am. Any advice for how to address this with my father? I don't want it to become a "thing" (we had a falling out 2 yrs ago and didn't speak for a year) but I don't want my son to feel like his grandfather is constantly harping on him about every little thing (that's what I went through). This past weekend, my husband and I were so irritated with it that we started in on each other. I don't want 1 person's overly irritable personality affecting the time we spend together.
T.E. answers from Fort Myers on September 30, 2008
I totally understand where you are coming from. My parents live up in P.A. and I took my children up there for a visit when the kids were younger, around the same age. My father is a very nice person as well, however, he doesn't have the tolerance that some grandpas have. My son was scared of my father because my dad was harsh with him as well. My father didn't realize that he comes off that way, but he does. After putting the children down to bed one night I had to have a one on one talk with my dad. I had to address this issue. Yes, it was uncomfortable however, I'm like a mother bear when it comes to protecting my children. I to was raised harshly. I still today as an adult feel as if nothing I do is right because of my upbringing. I will not allow my father to treat my children the way I was treated. My best advice to you is to pull your dad aside in a one on one conversation no matter how uncomfortable it may feel, and let him know how this makes you feel about him talking to your son. If it don't change, than you may need to re-evaluate the relationship with him. He may be harboring ill feeling that are underlying. Good Luck and God Bless. Oh, and don't let anyone ruin your happiness with your family(husband/son). Nip it in the butt now.
S.S. answers from Sarasota on September 30, 2008
I would have one more talk with your father - lay it on the line - and if he still doesn't straighten up remove him from the equation! If your father can't act appropriately (i.e. giving a child room to be a child) then where does he get off beating up your son about his behavior? I am so tired of adults taking their issues out on kids - your his mom - protect him like you know he needs! Congratulations on overcoming your domineering father and not falling prey to the low self-esteem that usually comes with that sort of bad parenting, but as you said, your son is more sensitive than you are - are you really ready to risk his self-esteem just to placate your fahter's bad behavior? If your fahter can't back off and let you do your job - then he needs to be out of the picture - protecting your son is your first priority - not salvaging a relationship with your father!
I commend you on how far you have obviously come - I have a close friend whose father was just like yours and I have wathced her go from one bad relationship to another looking for the acceptance she never got from her father!
J.G. answers from Tampa on September 30, 2008
Sorry you are having to face a situation like this. I can relate because my father-in-law can be the same way at times.
Setting boundaries with your father is a great start. I agreed with all the advice about dealing with your dad on this issue. I wanted to add a little to that advice though, I want to emphasize the most important conversations are the ones you have with your son. I'm sure this is obvious to you. It's more important that your son knows he is loved by mommy and daddy, than your dad being corrected. Even when there isn't an incident with your dad, encourage and praise every little thing your son does. What you don't want to see happen is your son take the hurt feelings and insecurity he receives from interactions with his grandpa and apply that to other areas in his life. Make sure your son knows that he is not a nuisance to his mom and dad, that he is special and loved. You can't over-praise your own child! And the affirmation he gets from his parents is far more valuable to him than the sting of grandpa's harsh words. Then teach him how to deal with hurt feelings.
You sound like a great mom. It will all work out:)
Feel free to message me if you want to talk more.
C.F. answers from Tampa on September 30, 2008
Depending on your father's personality, talking won't matter a bit. If he's always been this way, why would he change? I'm simply amazed at the number of moms on here that had the Talk with their father and it made some sort of difference. My father thinks he's God and always right and "dammit I'll say what I like in my house when I want!!" (Add about 5 more exclamation points there.) Heck, my dad disowned me when I became pregnant.. His actual words were "No daughter of mine would be that stupid." Things improved after I married, but I think it's because I was out of that house more than anything. My dad pretty much ignores my son, which is okay by me. We limit our time around Grandpa, and when we do have a get together, I pretty much keep him with me in the family room with my mother and sister-in-law while the men all hash it out over sports in the livingroom.
So my advice to you is simple. Limit time around your dad, and try to explain to your son that Grandpa has been like this since you were a little girl, and that he says mean things without thinking about them sometimes. Hopefully it'll at least help him learn how to deal with difficult people since he'll encounter them throughout his life.
S.D. answers from Sarasota on September 30, 2008
I have a similar situation. I am regularly asking myself, "how can I allow my parents to be involved in my children's lives and protect them at the same time?" I don't have any great advice except that I practice setting boundaries with my parents, talk to them whenever I have the opportunity, keep my children's best interest at the forefront of my mind and keep trying new things. I talk to people about new situations that arise, give us all an out if we need to take it and know that my children come first. It takes courage to stand up to our parents in a respectful way. I can limit visits if needed, I would end them if I ever felt it was necessary but I pray it doesn't come to that. I've actually seen some miraculous changes occuring lately and I am thankful. My mom wrote a letter to my brothers and I this week saying she is sorry for being abusive to us as children. She realizes she broke our spirits and feels great sorrow and remorse. I've seen a major shift in how she interracts with my kids. Miracles do happen sometimes :) I wish you and your family the best.
T.C. answers from Tampa on October 03, 2008
Good luck! This is your father so you know what the future holds. I had similar problems but with my father in law. I told my husband to speak to him and handle it or visits would be very brief or not at all. I felt there was no other choice as a parent and advocate for my child. My son is now 15 and rarely sees his grandparents who live 5 miles away because of the way he was treated. He has bad memories which is very sad. For a long time he was sad because he couldn't understand why his grandfather acted like he didn't love him. My husband visits his parents on special occasions only usually alone as my son and I don't care to be around them. Some older people have the mind set that they are intitled to rude and hurtful behavior and NOTHING and I mean nothing will ever change that I'm sorry to say. It'll be his loss as time goes on and you son no longer wants to visit.
A.Z. answers from Milwaukee on September 19, 2011
CD from Tampa... it does NOT mellow as grampa gets older. My father is 83 and just as negative and grouchy as ever. After spending a full weekend with his negativity, I'm sure my son will have picked up a few old-fashioned swear words. My 3-yr old says he doesn't like to be around grampa because "He fights with me too much." I'm glad my son is setting boundaries. I called my dad on it each time he swear, each time he started getting too negative. But folks on this site are right: no matter what, a real old-fashioned macho grumpy old man will not change. My dad can be as sweet as can be, and then suddenly just a holy terror. I'm sure there's something medically wrong with him, but he wont go to the dcotor and he's just not going to change.
What I do:
Always have an exit, just in case
Don't let my guard down. He can be sweet, but just as swiftly, he cuts like a know.
Limit time. I see my dad a lot... maybe once a week or every two weeks. But that's about it.
I hang up on him (I say bye first) if he starts yelling at me on the phone.
He gets frustrated when he is feeling a loss of control. One little thing can set him off and then he's crabby for the rest of the day. Normally I don't spend days with him, only a couple hours here and there. But recently we spent several days together, I let my guard down and bam! Got slammed with his anger, his swearing and his negativity. Man, I'm rarely around that. I felt like I needed a shower when I got home. Most of the folks in my life are so positive.
I don't knwo what to say other than pray for him and ask God for a miracle.
M.S. answers from Tampa on September 30, 2008
I have a very strickt father and that was causing some problems for myself and my daughter. I told him that we enjoyed having him around but to please leave to me the upbringing of my daugher. I put it in a nice way and he's gotten better. Along with that we've decided to spend less time with him...shorter visits don't give him enough time to be intolerable...and talking to my daughter about this helped her not to get upset and hurt...
Please don't let that get into your family...it's not worth it! Your dad had his family and his kids...now his job is to be a grandfather and not a parent to your kid. It's your turn now!
C.D. answers from Tampa on September 30, 2008
If you've tried talking to your dad and it didn't work then you and your husband need to set up some boundaries with your dad.
Set a boundary on how much time you let your son spend with your dad. Also explain to your son that "grandpa is just a little harsh at times and it's nothing against you".
Be honest with your dad and tell him that you are limiting the time your son spends with him because of his behavior.
All relationships are a compromise but the bottom line is you can't control other people.
If you can't compromise with your dad then just set up some boundaries, be honest with your son and your dad. Tell your son "that's just the way grandpa is".
Your dad will probably mellow as he gets older.
A.G. answers from Punta Gorda on September 30, 2008
My parents are divorced, and have both made very poor choices in there lives. I tell my parents all the time, "my first responsibility is to my family at home." Alhough my issue with my parents has not always been being harsh on my children, I have always been serious when I tell my parents you will do what I think is right for my child, or you will leave. I always have family functions in a public place, or at my house when possible. I have has 2 situations where I really had to put my foot down. My mother has has a lot of different boyfriends since my parents divorced, some that were nice to me as a kid, and somew that were not. When I became a parent I told my mother no boyfriends. She showed up at my daughters 3 birthday with a boyfriend. I told her to leave and come back with out him or stay gone, it was up to her, but I would call the police and have them both arrested for trespassing if they did not leave. She left and came back without him. She did not stay very long, but she also has never brought another boyfriend. The second tiem I was very harsh was with my father. My brother has four boys. They have behavior issues outside of the norm, and it has gotten worse now that there parents have divorced. However they are kids and they still need love, especially from family. Parents are there to discipline. My nephew kept bumping in to this end table while he was playing catch with the dog. Hewas having fun and not paying attention to what was behind him, typical 6 year old boy stuff. My dad grabbed him by the arm, hard, and yelled at him because he knocked something off the end table and it bounced on the tile. I with out thinking went right over and told my nephew he could take the leash and play with the dog outside and told my dad that at my house we treat children this way, and if he wanted to treat his grandson different at his house that was his choice, but at my house we love the kids. He left soon after and did not say good bye to me. After a few days I called him and told him that I loved him. I also told him that I loved my nephews, and I know he does too, but he needs the boys to know he loved them. He agreed that as long as there parents were there he would let there parents discipline them, and he would love them. I treat my parents like they are children pushing there boundaries, and that need to be reminded about good choices. That does not work for every parent, but my parents divorced when I was very young and they forced me to grow up so they did not have to. It works in my family. Good Luck and remember what I said in the begninning, "my first responsibility is to my family at home."