Grandpa Concerned About Overweight Grandson-to Interfere or Not to Interfere

Updated on January 17, 2011
H.X. asks from San Clemente, CA
12 answers

I'm just curious. My father is planning on discussing with my sister and her husband about the fact that their 4-year-old son (Ethan) is starting to be overweight. My brother-in-law's two high school age daughters from a previous marriage are morbidly obese (250-300 lbs). Me and my sister grew up in a very health conscious, weight conscious home. My father and mother watch Ethan regularly and are very close to him. My sister has her own eating issues and is conscious about good nutrition( veggies and such), but also loads up on thing like butter, and dessert. Her husband is a soda and burger junkies and feeds Ethan this way when he is in charge. My parents witnessed him allowing Ethan to eat four adult portions of dessert in one sitting this weekend (two brownies and two pieces of pie). That was his lunch. My father is beside himself. My mother said its none of their business and they just have to love Ethan and not interfere with the way his parents feed him. Over Christmas when I was visiting I witnessed my father do some disturbing things. He took about 6 digs at lunch regarding what Ethan was eating and then when my sister couldn't get his pants to button my father lovingly told Ethan non to eat a third piece of cheese because he didn't want him to be a "lard butt". I however muttered under my breath "enough!". So I talked with my father and he told me that he's just feeling desperate and out of control and everyone is telling him to stay out of it. So I said, Just have a heart-to-heart with his parents, its better than taking digs and telling a 4-year-old you don't want him to be a "lard butt". Sorry so detailed, but he is planning on having a heart to heart with his parents. I'm just curious. Do you think grandparents should interfere in these matters?

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Dallas on

He needs to back off the kid RIGHT NOW. If he's concerned, he needs to talk to his daughter and she needs to talk to her husband. The boy doesn't need to "watch his weight", but his parents need to be responsible when they feed him - and if daddy's clueless, he needs to be clued in. He may not be thinking, just doing what he does for himself. I don't think it's interfering, per se - the boy's health is at stake if he's eating like a fully grown, unhealty eating adult. Snacks aren't bad, dessert isn't bad, but the wrong size portions are.

Hope it works out!

More Answers



answers from Pittsburgh on

Your dad should talk to the parents. He should have some concrete suggestions such as meeting with their pediatrician or finding out what nutritional counselors are available and getting the parents these resources. The parents will likely be defensive but I suspect they don't want their son to develop Diabetes and die prematurely of obesity related disease - so perhaps they will listen. I think it is inappropriate of him to address the issue with Ethan.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

A heart to heart with his parents is better than what he has been doing- a 4 yr old won't understand why his grandpa is making fun of him, or even realize it until he is older. If he is really concerned about his grandsons health- yes, I think he should bring it up to his parents- but he needs to do it with compassion and he also needs to realize that he is the grand parent, not the parent and ultimately it is the parent's decision- even if he doesn't agree with it.
some things he can do though- when they are watching their grandson, they can offer smaller portions and healthier options. He can also encourage his grandson to be more active by playing with him outside, or taking him to the park. He can even offer to pay for a sport- soccer or karate- if it is something the parents and child would be interested in. But he needs to stop the rude comments- It will only hurt his relationship with the grandson and his daughter. He needs to be a positive example and after his heart to heart- he needs to bite his tongue and let the parents parent.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Grandparents can help in ways that won't be seen as "interfering." If your father is in pretty good shape, he can (with the parents' permission!) enroll the boy in some kind of activity -- not intense soccer leagues, etc., but fun, non-pressured activity where an adult participates too and encourages the child. Some local recreation centers have cheap classes for kids and parents (and a grandparent can take a child to these too!). These often are just six-, eight- or 10-week classes so there's not a lot of pressure or expense but you can repeat them if the child likes them. A couple of these each week could get the boy more active. Granddad can also get him to the park, get him to climb as much as possible (set an "obstacle course" and give him LOTS of praise for doing it several times fast!), get him out on a bike -- anything active, and every day it's possible. Even walking around the block briskly while playing a distracting game like "I spy" or making up stories about what's going on inside the houses they pass -- that's great too. Rather than being confrontational about food (which is indeed a problem as you describe it), Granddad can be proactive and positive about activity right now and offer to be the one who pays for and takes the boy to classes, for walks, to shoot hoops. If Granddad is not physically up to it, he needs to at least get the boy to classes and be on the sidelines encouraging and full of PRAISE -- "lardbutt" etc.must be banned from his vocabulary. THis kid will only eat more for comfort if he feels he's being belittled. Meanwhile, when at Granddads, ensure the only food available is the food that's best for the kid -- it's easy to say "Sorry, that was the only piece of cheese in the fridge -- let's share an apple!"

The activity and classes and park time should be presented to the boy as pure fun and great times with Granddad, not as "let's work off some of that lard." Pressuring him that way right now would backfire.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think your father should say something, just leave out the snide remarks and come at you sister and husband as his real love and concern for his gransdon. This has to be dealt with now as Ethan is learning bad habits and it is a health issue. Your father needs to come at it out of concern and love NOT judgement, he'll turn them right off if he starts the name calling and the blame game.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

Sounds like somebody needs to say something........hope he's prepared for the aftermath though!



answers from Denver on

I agree the digs have to stop. Maybe if your Dad apologizes for them to your sister and husband, then explains why he's made them - and then has a discussion of concern about Ethan. Tough subject... the real issue it seems is the eating habits of his father (maybe mom too?). Until those change, they won't/can't change Ethan's...



answers from New York on

Sounds like sis, hubby, and their kids could all use a dietary re-vamp. Grandpa is in a tough spot as it sounds like your sister and hubby are contributing to Ethan's obesity. Let him speak with the parents, and let him promote healthy eating and activity when Ethan is in his own care. Comments like lard butt though can be devastating.


answers from Los Angeles on

I have a young 6 yr old boy and he has also gotten heavy but I have been taking steps, myself, to control his portions and replace and reduce his snacks, overall. There's a lot of "no, no more" going on in my house as a result. Your dad's concern is legit but the 'lard butt' is not the right way to encourage the 4 yr old to eat better. It's necessary for someone to have a talk with your sister and brother n law. That little boy is headed in the wrong direction. If his mom and dad don't step up, now, it's gonna be really difficult for the child to deal with obesity in health and socially, too. Let's face it, Ethan has 2 half sisters who are suffering from obesity. Don't mind your own business on this one. If you are close with your sister you can talk to her alone. Her husband is gonna be the bigger challenge. He's feeding Ethan the food that he likes to eat so he's got to be on board otherwise he will sabotage all the effort being made to get Ethan on the right track. Please don't sit on this one. Tell your dad to be more loving about it and stress healthy foods and positive reinforcement. Name calling is going to make Ethan have very low self esteem. If Ethan had a drug problem and was slowly killing himself I don't think that you would question interfering or saying something to his parents.



answers from Honolulu on

... well even if your Father talks to Ethan's parents... it does not mean, he will then become healthy or in the right weight zone.
BECAUSE.... Ethan's parents... have eating hang-ups TOO.
AND their house is their house and what they buy and feed their kids...are their 'habits' and how they eat too.

For a child, to become healthy... it takes the ENTIRE family... to ALL.... participate in that. So, Ethan's Dad and Mom... have to start to eat healthy and not buy junk, nor feed him junk.
What is happening as well... is they are emotion-eating.

Sure, you say your Sister is conscious about good nutrition... BUT... they are NOT eating that way. Being conscious of something, does NOT mean... the person then behaves healthily, nor for their children.
AND you said, that your Sister has her own eating issues.....

Ethan's parents... eat junk, buy junk, feed junk, and eat unhealthy AND... eat out of emotions/hang-ups about food.
SO... this... is the problem as well.
Then, Ethan's weight problems and eating habits... are only a symptom of ALL of the emotion-based/psychological eating.... 'habits' ... of his Parents.

So... if the ENTIRE family.... does not correct their habits and food constructs.... Ethan... will be this way. He is a child... he cannot correct it on his own... nor cook for himself, nor grocery shop himself for alternative healthy foods.... if his parents will not participate.... in that. Even if he is.... obese or overweight.

What does their Pediatrician say?

Your Father means well.... but tell him to stop the name-calling.... a child will be hurt by that, emotionally. And that is hard.... to then correct. It is the child's self-esteem, too.
I can understand how your Father feels 'desperate' about this.... he is worried about his grandson....

Ethan's parents ALSO... will probably be in 'DENIAL' about this and Ethan's weight. THEN, the only way to help Ethan and the entire family... is they ALL have to be on-board about it, AND seek Counseling... or at least a Nutritionist.... and they ALL need to exercise too.
It is a WHOLE change... in their lives and habits and emotional constructs about food.... MANY ISSUES... they ALL have.
It is not Ethan's fault... he is a child. It is his parents... that are ultimately harming him.
And gee, your BIL already has 2 HIGH-school daughters... that are Morbidly Obese. That is... due to the parent(s)....

all the best,



answers from Harrisburg on

It's definitely not alright for your dad to be calling him a lard butt. But, I do completely agree about something needs to be done. From the sounds of it if he keeps this up there could be major health issues, not to mention when he hits school age. Kids can be pretty nasty about being overweight. I guess the big question would be does he have an eating disorder or is he eating this way because mom and dad do?

Maybe have your dad play some more active games with him.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions