Grandpa Imposed on Our Discipline on Our Child & Created a Scene

Updated on February 04, 2010
A.L. asks from San Jose, CA
17 answers

Our 2 year old is having lots of tantrums and melt downs like any toddler at her age. Grandparents wanted to go to a cafe to get some drinks. Usually, when we're ourselves in a restaurant, cafe and store, we're able to handle the situation. The problem comes in is when my Dad, the Grandpa, starts yelling, raging and swearing in the public. My husband tapped her head to let her know that it is dangerous and not appropriate to swing your head around while she is upset because she is not getting her way. Our daughter has bumped her head quite frequently. Our daughter likes to swing her head back and wails her limbs when she starts to tantrum, so she almost knocked my husband's tooth out with her head today. The reason is that our daughter wanted to stay playing at the park. My husband was able to calm our daughter down, and our daughter wanted strawberry cake in the end, while my Dad (Grandpa) kept yelling and cursing. In the end, my Dad (Grandpa) was so emotional and angry. You could not have talked any sense to him. I tried telling my Dad (Grandpa) repeatedly that my husband didn't hit her head. I was right next to my husband and daughter. My husband had to pick up my daughter and leave the eating area, because he didn't want my daughter to witness anymore raging from my dad. I can tell right now that the incident has affected our daughter's behavior. She is screaming a lot more than usual. My mom and I were so embarrassed and appalled. My parents always had tried to impose how we discipline our child. This is worse incident that ever happened to us. Has anyone been through this before?

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answers from New York on

of course they become softies after they're raised us. my dad was very strict, sometimes irrational about it as well. he now has 4 grandkids. the first grandchild is my brother's son, 6 years old, who is out of control. spoiled, talks back, hits adults etc.
i didn't know all this because i live far away from all of them. last summer i was visiting with them and saw first-hand my nephew hitting my dad (his grandad) in the head and face. what did my dad do? stood there, while being hit. he even smiled at times because he was embarrased about me and my kids witnessing all this.
i was appalled to say the least. i asked why he wasn't doing anything about it? punishing him, time out ...anything. and my dad said: he's a child, what do you want me to do?
wow, well let me think back when i was a child and if i had behaved about 5 per cent of what my nephew was doing. well, better not think about what would have happened. i was more concerned about my same age daughters picking up on his behavior. they did, they started slamming doors, talking back and refusing to eat (all learned from my nephew). the first time they slammed the door was that same week, while we were visiting. my dad and mom were there, my daughters slammed the door, i stood up, took all the toys from their bin and send them to their room. my daughters were shocked. they usually are never punished in any way because they are well-behaved kids. but i wanted to nip this insanity in the bud. they went to the room crying. my dad started scolding me about being too harsh. i turned around and said: you were too harsh with us growing up, and now you put up with insane behavior and think it's ok. how about you don't interfere with how i discipline my kids, but if you're going to allow being hit and spit and pushed by a 6 year old then do it away from my kids.
so, he has never said a word about how to discipline my kids. that's all i cared about. my nephew is almost 7 and still behaves the same. my dad has taken over disciplining (or lack of) of my nephew. not my brother or my sister in law are allowed to interfere. so they put up with their son's behavior at home because he gets away at grandpas and grandma's house.
so, from my experience you need to set boundaries with your dad. they're your kids, and under no circumstances should you allow anyone to talk down to your husband or accuse him of anything. it will affect your marriage.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Why would you allow your daughter to have tantrums in public in the first place? You should immediately pick her up and take her away from wherever you are if she starts to have a tantrum. Don't wait for someone else to start a fuss. If you are at a store or a restaurant, put her in the car by herself and stand outside until she stops carrying on. She needs to learn that tantrums won't be tolerated.

If your dad embarrasses you in public, just don't take him with you when you go out! And if your parents try to butt in on your way of imposing discipline, tell them to butt out!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Modesto on

OK....we've already established that grandparents are "softies", of course, ANYTHING we do disciplinary will not be in agreement with them. First we have to understand that FACT.

Tantrums are hard....plain and simple....especially in public places. Some kids know how to throw tantrums better than others, and your daughter is at the perfect age to throw an excellent tantrum :o) If this is her "thing" to do regularly, then your first step is to know how to react each and EVERY time.

I read a long time ago that a mom used to carry a sign that said "sorry, tantrum in progress"....obvioulsy her child was a "regular".....I was inexperienced with tantrums (at the time) so i tried out something I had read.....make sure they are in a safe place, then let them have their tantrum. They think they will get what they want if they go through all of those emotions out loud....and honeslty, you cannot reason with a 2yr old when they are in the middle of a tantrum. Let her have her tantrums, and try not to "help" her.

My first step in the right direction was this......My son was GREAT at tantrums! One day he had a "melt down tantrum" when he was 2....we were in the grocery store...he wanted cocoa puffs (I'll never forget this embarrassing day)....there he was on the floor of the store having his tantrum....I was "fresh from reading those articles", so i let him have his tantrum right there, as i was desperate to try anything to help get passed this "stage". People walked by and gave me "looks"....some of them were understanding, some were not :o) I didn't care, though, because they didn't know what has been going on for months. I was trying to "be brave" and do the right thing. I just kept pretending to continue my shopping in the same aisle while trying to act like his tantrum wasn't affecting me (very hard to do).....after about 2 minutes (which seemd like 15) he got up from the floor and walked over to me....I asked him "are you done being upset?" he said yes. I said "OK let's finish our shopping, do you want a ride in the cart or do you want to walk"........I basically acted as if it never happened and went on like usual. THIS WAS THE FIRST STEP TO ELIMINATING HIS TANTRUMS. The key to success was my reaction.

My son's tantrums were so bad, we had to wait awhile before going out to dinner :o) Honestly, you never know what will "strike a tantrum", as I'm sure you're discovering.

The best thing is to try to prevent your daughter from getting upset by having things that keep her busy...eating and playing while you're at dinner :O)Obviously making sure that it's not nap time, too.

Once you've mastered your reaction to her tantrums, they will start to diminish.....really :O) It's all in your reaction.

As far as your parents go, anything physical will not be OK with them, no matter how major or minor, so don't try to "satisfy them", just focus on your daughter.

I'm hoping your mom gets your dad to apologize for yelling. he thinks he was protecting his grand-daughter, but the yelling was uncalled for.

Time heals all wounds.......even this one :O)

~N. :o)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Sounds like you daughter inherited your fathers temper. Throwing a tantrum in a public place is awful, so, as you know and did, you remove the child from the public place and discipline him/her your own way. Sounds like Grandpa needs this to happen to him too. Next time he wants to go out in public with you, say no. Let him know that you cannot afford to have your daughter witness another one of his tantrums. If he cant stop having tantrums then he can't go anywhere with you. If he is going to act like a two-year-old, treat him like one. You say your daughter is having tantrums and meltdowns "like any child her age". This is NOT normal behaviour. Grandpa is modeling bad behaviour and you have a serious problem already, you do NOT need him exagerating it. Get her tantrums under control. There are a lot of good books out there. There are videos too. Until you have your own daughter under control, you cannot afford to have Grandpa throwing more tantrums around her. It's like he's giving her permission to act badly and when he belittles you or your husband in front of your daughter it's like he's rewarding her for having the tantrum and saying "See? Tantrums are great and they get you what you want". You will not be able to gain control of your daughter until Grandpa gains control.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

I never have disciplined one of our children in front of anyone, so I never had this problem. Usually, when I picked up the problem child, said "excuse us," and walked outside or to the ladies room and talked with the child, I found out what was upsetting the child and could help them handle it. If it was someone putting their hand on the child's leg, I moved them to sit in between me and Dad. If it was brother making faces at them, I put brother on the same side of the table facing someone he would not make faces at. Sometimes the littlest one just needed a cracker to tide them over until the meal arrived. When we returned to the group, I did not make a big issue of what had happened; I just said, "We are going to try again with ___ sitting here." After we got home, we had a discussion about touching others, making faces, or whatever. I think there are times when the older ones want to see if they can make a younger one act out. Who knows why - boredom maybe. I started taking a small toy or book that is rarely out so it will occupy the minds and hands of the little ones. It seems to occupy the grandparents, too!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

We were in the same boat w/my husband's step-father. It all came to a head this summer while we were vacationing w/them (somewhat of a mistake!) in Bath,England. My husband's step-father crossed the line & got too angry w/our 4yo. My husband just told him in no uncertain terms that it was unacceptable & that we will deal w/any & all discipling. What makes this situation wor se is that grandpa blantantly favours our older son (9yrs) & will step in to defend him even tho the older brother played a part in the problem. So, I suggest you just calmy & concisley tell them that you & your husband are the disciplarians, end of story. I would also tell him that you do not appreciate him stepping in & offering advice during or after the tantrums as it undermines your authority. Yes, your daughter may only be 2 but she will very soon start picking up on this & you don't want any further undermining from your dad. Our problem has been partially solved cuz my MIL & her husband have serarated & he is really no in the picture much anymore....guessing this is not an option for solving your problem? ;) Best of luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

Hi A.,

Can you say, "inappropriate."

I don't care what your Dad's reasoning was: he lost control. Period. Not Okay.

My biggest concern: is this new, or has he always been like this? Has he started doing this at home, where just your Mom has seen it, but has been hiding it from everyone else?

I don't know your parents' ages or situations, but if this is NOT typical behavior for your Dad, it *could* be something medical / psychological going on. I encourage you to have a one-on-one with your Mom to get to the bottom of it.

Otherwise: none of my business (sorry)

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answers from San Francisco on

I've not been through this before, but I think you need to sit down with Grandpa and let him know that no matter how he feels about the way you're disciplining your daughter, under NO circumstances should he voice it in front of her. That gives her the fuel she needs to keep going and it undermines your authoriity with her. If he has comments, he can voice them later, when the child is not there and the situation has defused. I would give him only one chance after tell him and then I would severely limit his association with her until she grows out of the tantrums.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

Time to set boundaries with the grandparents. You & your husband are the only ones who need to be disciplining your daughter. If your parents don't like it then cut the visit short. Now I personally don't mind if someone corrects my child if I don't see what happened, but if I am around then I am the one to hand out the punishment. If family or friends are taking care of my daughter & I am not there, then they have permission to put her in time out & that's it. Any other form of discipline I take care of. I would really think twice before going out in public again with them for awhile. Was your Dad this way when you were growing up? Or do you think this outburst may have something to do with his age...?

Good luck & God bless!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

These are your parents, so I think it is time you have a heart to heart with them. Tell them how much you love and respect them, but set limits. Let your Dad know that you don't appreciate his affronts to your husband. If your folks can't follow these limits then I would suggest you avoid being in public with them with your daughter.... just to protect yourself from embarrassment if nothing else. If this happens at their house, pick up your daughter and leave. Not in a huff, but let your Dad know you will not engage in HIS behavior. If it happens in your house, pick up your daughter and leave the room.

If you parents criticize you but without screaming, etc.... well, that's probably pretty normal. A good way to handle it is just to listen. Maybe respond with "that's a thought." But saying "that's a thought" doesn't mean you agree or will change your tact. It's just a way to get through it.

I know the other mom's are giving you a lot of advice about how to handle the tantrums. You didn't really ask about that, but I think the concern is that your daughters tantrums sound a bit more violent than the average. You sound fearful for her safety, which is not typical. I would talk to my pediatrician or do some online research at the very least to see how you can help your daughter learn to deal with her emotions. It will help her now and later on.

One more Dad is a "yeller." I hear your pain! But you are all grown up now and you do not have to sit around and accept his poor matter how much you love him.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I agree with grandparents having a soft spot for their grandchildren. My mom "rescues" her 4 year old granddaugther from any discipline while the family is gathered at her house. It's irritating but its also not in public. While in public, or when gathered with extended family and friends she wouldn't dare undermining the parents. I think that is disrespectful and rude and I would try and find a way to explaining this to your dad for making such a scene and ask him not to do this again! Besides the fact it probably scared your daughter, it sounds like it was completely inappropriate and like he over reacted!

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answers from Bellingham on

I think every grandparent out there has a soft spot for their grandkids. My Mom was tough on us and is a softie with my girls. She frowns when I punish them or tries to subtelly (but not really) criticize that "sort of" punishment when we're talking.

But we have rule, I will raise my children the way my husband and I see fit. Period. If she and my Dad or my other inlaws don't like it they can keep to themselves. If they chose to get in the way, say something or take matters into their own hands they are no longer welcome around my children. We have on occasion, left a situation because the behaviour of those family members passed acceptable. Trust me when I say, making it clear that you are the parent and they aren't by picking up YOUR child and walking out is a clear and simple message.

Hope that helps!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Your Dad is concerned, the way he went about showing his concern is just as inappropriate as your husband tapping your daughter on the head. When your upset would tapping you on the head help. I would get her tantrums under control before taking her to a restaurant. Make sure you have snacks with you when leaving the house, sippy cup, favorite toy. If she does act up at home with a tantrum, do not pick her up ....ignore her. There are so many books out there to help you with this. She is also reacting this way because of all the attention she gets from all of you getting upset in front of her. Maybe parenting classes might help with how you deal with your child. They have a wealth of information for you. I do wish you luck.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

maybe telling the grandpa they you know it is upsetting but she's looking to him and the other adults to be in control of themselves otehrwise its scarey for her and she will act out more. ug. yuck.

perhaps saying "you aren't helping"



answers from Boston on

OK this probably won't be a very popular response but I can totally understand why your Dad reacted that way if in his perception he felt your husband (your daughter's father) has inappropriately hit your daughter. When I read the title of your post I thought you were saying her grandpa was disciplining your daughter inappropriately, but it's actually that your father (her grandfather) felt your husband (her father) was disciplining her inappropriately.

I guess I would try a couple of things, now that I see the story more accurately.

1. I would try to think about what triggers the tantrums and work around those ie if she's more likely to melt down when she's hungry, don't go out for a meal where you will have to wait a long time, or at least bring some cheese sticks/crackers to tide her over. If it happens more when she's tired and she hasn't had her nap, maybe consider canceling your plans to go out or one of you stay at home with her when that happens, or even invite your parents over.

2. I would try to agree on a parenting strategy with your husband. You should go through what is and isn't inappropriate discipline. Most advice these days is NOT to do any sort of hitting and spanking as this just demonstrates that big people hit little people and that's ok. However, the most important thing is for the two of you to agree. If you want to use physical discipline, the advice I've read is that you should never do it in anger, and my personal opinion (which may differ from yours) is it probably isn't a great idea to hit in the head/face for any reason. I've read a lot of people who recommend a time out (2 minutes for a 2 year old) and simply ignoring the tantrum. In any case, you & your husband should have a clear agreement on what is and isn't appropriate for your discipline strategy, and how you handle problems that crop up while you are out.

3. I'd suggest you speak with your Mom & Dad after you've developed your strategy and inform them that this is how you will approach discipline and you need them to not undermine your efforts when you are together. That may be easier said than done if everyone is all angry over a specific situation, so you may want to go through a cool-down period first and let everyone simmer down.

All in all, I think a 2 year old having tantrums is no surprise to anyone and we all have to work through how we will handle various situations. I have a 2.5 year old so I totally understand the predicament. My overall strategy is avoiding situations I know will cause problems for her.

Best of luck.



answers from San Francisco on


Your Dad my have the beginnings of Altzheimer's desease. He should be checked.




answers from San Francisco on

I was nearly evicted from an apt. from a child that cried alot because of physical pain that was later cured with surgery. But he was left with asitter even when I went to the grocery store as not to put him into a bad situation. I really don't understand why you feel that others should have to listen to your out of control child? I am surprised that no one asked you to pay for their meal that your family imposed on. I have 5 children, and have several grandchildren none of them were perfect but they were taught to be respectful and if we said no that was the answer& if a child were out of control and I couldn't stop it and didn't take control esp if it was a repeated experiance I would expect a grandparent to say/do something. My children were raised with firm ground rules to build upon the first being that I am the parent and you are the child that puts me in charge. It is rude to have the adult loose control and get out of line but it could have been avoided by your family entirely. I can only hope that Grandpa will never be in a situation that would require him to loose control..sounds like the adults were out to lunch and the child was the winner and in charge and Grandpa resented it. Wit my grandchildren, I wait and take the cue from the parents & if I see that they aren't goin to then and only then do I step in & believe me the child doesn't want Nana to give them "the look" as they call it. Good Luck.
Next time get a sitter and just asume that your child is not old/mature enough to be allowed to go out with you. This keeps the child in a safe enviroment that has all that she needs. When you do take yourlittle one out makesure she knows the ground rules and your expectations.

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