How to Respond to Grandparents Who Want to Take 1 Child on Vacation

Updated on April 04, 2011
M.C. asks from Elk Grove Village, IL
26 answers

I love my inlaws and have always made an effort to get along with them because I love my husband and they are his family. That said, they do not supervise the children well and they have a very carefree attitude about safety and rules that concerns me greatly. They ignore or contradict simple rules that are meant to protect the childrens' safety, health and well being. They insist on having our 3 kids for long weekends and have repeatedly hinted that they want to keep them at their house for a week. They live 15 minutes away and we see them alot so I am not sure why all this alone time with the kids is necessary, I'm happy to visit and go on outings with them, but they insist on having the kids alone without us around. They act like I'm weird becuase when they had kids they were happy to have a break whenever they coold and let their parents take all the kids for 2 weeks or more at a time. What they don't seemt to understand is that I am not looking for a break from my children- I had kids becuase I wanted to love, care for, and spend time with them. That is why I homeschool and stay home to be with them-- we belong to a homeschool group that meets once a week and the kids are involved in lots of sports, etc so its not like they are sheltered or anything like that. But the main problem is they do not respect our wishes with the kids-- they would let the kids play outside (even the 3 yr old) by themselves without supervision (no fence, busy neighborhood) and watch innapropriate real life crime dramas etc with the kids in the room watching. We have been saving as a family for 2 years to take a vacation to disney world, which we still cannot afford becuase my husband was laid off for several months. But it is our ultimate goal to do it in a year or so, and we took our son when he was 5. Now my inlaws want to take the 9 year old on a weeklong beach vacation and are acting like if i dont agree, they will convince my husband. They also said that in the future they would take the girls one at a time (now 5 and 3). First off, i dont think i could its a good idea to have hm so far away for a whole week. Also, it doesnt seem fair when the girls so desperately want to go to disney and big brother is getting to go to florida for a week and they will have to wait another year. I think families should stick together and vacations are family affairs. I also think it sets a bad precedence and cant imagine letting them take one of the girls out of state ever. At least the 9 year old I can tell him, dont go outside or swimming without one of the grandparents and he will probably obey. Help! Am I being unreasonable? what would you do or say???

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So What Happened?

Thank you to everyone for your input- It is good to know I am not the only mom on the block who feels like protecting our kids is priority number one. My husband and I have talked it over and decided to tell the grandparents, thank you and it will not work for us (thank you to the mom who suggested that tactic) we really feel that children need to travel with their parents. I would certainly welcome the grandparents to travel together with us as we have done in the past, but simply are not comfortable with the children travelling without their father and I. So far, since we discussed and made our decision, the topic has not been brought up again. They may have just been "testing the waters" and I am glad that (so far) they have not tried to divide and conquer with my husband. But the good news is that if/when it does come up again, we will be ready to give a loving but firm no and stand as a united front. They really are loving parents and grandparents overall, I just think there is a combination of a slight lack in boundaries, and a niavete about the world as it has changed with regard to children's safety since their kids were little. Thank you everyone for your feedback and support, it was greatly appreciated!

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answers from Baton Rouge on

If you don't think it's a good idea, just tell them, "We don't think that's a good idea, but thanks anyway." Repeat as necessary.

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7 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

No, No, and No. I would not let them take only one kid. I would be uncomfortable letting them take my kids at all...

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3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

You are not unreasonable.
You don't want to know what I'd say - because I have no feelings of guilt for ruffling feathers of people who try to walk all over me.
It's wouldn't be polite or politically correct and they would hate me and I wouldn't care.
The real problem here is you 'like' people who totally disrespect you.
I don't like people who try undermine my authority.
What they are doing is not nice or likable.
They are not going to respect you until you demand it, and if they refuse - who needs them?
And hell would freeze over 7 times before I'd let my child(ren) vacation with people like that.

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answers from Honolulu on

You just do what YOU want.
These are YOUR kids.
You do NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT, have to give in to them and their demands that your kids, stay with them.

They are not you.
You are not them.
Personally, I would not do that.

2nd: you have to TRUST them, and their level of ability, to supervise and care for your kids, SMARTLY.
If you do not trust them, then no.

3rd; THEY do not make the rules. YOU do. It is your kids.

4th: they are manipulating you, the kids, and your Husband. ALL to be against you.

5th: Your Husband, should not allow this. His 1st priority, should be his Wife, and kids. Not pleasing them or his parents, Bully behavior.

6th: THEY do not decide, the vacations of your children.

7th: Your HUSBAND, has to, consult with you about it and you both make a decision. NOT him going along with his parents. These are not their kids.

The problem here is: they are taking advantage of you and your Husband's ability to "provide" for your kids.
It is not up to them, what to do with your kids.
The problem is not that they 'offered' to take your kids on vacation and "oh that is so generous of them." NO. The problem is, they are commandeering your life and your kids life. By passing you and making you marginal, in making decisions for your children.
THAT is the problem, here.

AND that is a bad example, for your kids to see. The more your In-Laws put you in a weaker position and a marginal position, the more your children will see your In-Laws as being above you... and you, their MOM... only disregarded.
I hope, your Husband REALIZES that.
A child, should NOT see their MOM.... treated as such.
It is very disrespectful, of your In-Laws.
They are really posing a bad role-model, for your kids.

Sorry, but your In-Laws irk me.
And I am in a direct mood today.

all the best,

14 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I love it when I get to say this :)....

Ditto Susan. 100%

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I am a firm believer that YOU are in charge of your children. I have had to deal with family who incessantly whined about wanting to take the baby for a weekend. Same family couldn't figure out how to change a diaper or buckle a carseat. AND didn't take the time to come to our house to learn routines and get to know the baby. I said NO. I am like you, I had my children to enjoy them, however that part of the family dumped their kids almost every weekend. When I decide I want a break, I'll look in to things, but otherwise leave it be, please! Even went to far as to say it was a shame that I breastfed because they didn't get to keep the baby. I could have exploded from that one. But, to those people it is more about calling themselves grandparents than BEING such.

Until you are comfortable with some arrangement, the answer just has to be no. They are your kids and that is that. Good luck, because I know it's difficult.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I DITTO ditto Riley and Susan 100%
Susan you should be in a direct mood more often.

B. k

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Your in-laws sound crazy. I won't even address the things you mentioned because it doesn't really sound like you trust them to watch you kids and I don't blame you.

Having just said that and not even touching on the myriad of reasons that would make me reluctant as well... I'll just say that my grandmother LOVED to travel. My grandfather didn't and so she decided that she would take 1 (sometimes 2) of us on her trips with her. Because there were many grandchildren we all only got to go on a trip with her one time, but they were wonderful trips that we would not have otherwise experienced. Hawaii, Canada, England, Bahamas... I would wait until you feel that the children are at a good age to go (certainly not 3 or 5) and let them go on a trip with them. When your kids are old enough it will be a trip they will never forget.

Good luck with your decision~

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Because I'm the MOMMY that's why! If you are not comfortable then don't do it. You need to have a united front with your husband on this point and make him tell his parents NO if they start to work on him.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I think it really depends upon your relationship with your in laws. My grandparents took each of the 3 of us for a long weekend (separately) when we were about 5 or 6. I still remember it - we went to the beach, we watched airplanes take off and land at the airport (ok, so that was a big deal and lots of fun - can't do it anymore), and spent alone time with them. When DH was a tween, his grandparents took him to Israel. They took his siblings separately. It was a fantastic experience and he developed a real relationship with them - different from it always being the whole family. Perhaps that sort of connection with the kids is what they are looking for. And yes of course, you would need to feel good about their day to day ability to parent first. But no, I don't see that this would have anything at all to do with a whole family trip to Disney.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Abilene on

Ditto S.H.

No way. My inlaws always try to get the kids for long periods. They use the time to grill the kids(my SIL and her husband were horrid) and to alienate the kids from the parents. They would love to try it with us, but our kids don't want to be grilled, to be alone with them(harsh discipline), and we won't allow it. We decide.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Louisville on

let him go. just b/c your husbands sisters got pregnant doesnt mean the parents were bad. I got pregnant as a teen and it had nothing to do with my parents.... the girls are little they wont understand. tell them he is going to florida. they dont have to know thats where disney is. and it sounds like they arnt going to disney. you say vacation is for family what do you think grandparents are? we go every year on vacation with my parents its kind of a tradition. my daughter has stayed with my parents for weeks at a time. my youngest wont shes a home body but my oldest loves to go and stay. let him go and be happy for him!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Wow, I'm rather taken aback at the many emotional answers. I am a grandma that loves kids and loves to be with my grandchildren. I would love to have them more often but they are in school and sports now and they are just too busy. I think young mamas need to remember that grandparents aren't always up on the latest trends of discipline. Maybe you could just talk to them about how scary the world is and why you think it's necessary to always keep a watchful eye. Looking at theses scenarios from a grandparents point of view, they want a relationship with your kids, they don't want any harm to come to them and they want to help you out too. What's so bad about that? Please just talk with them without the anger and work something out so you are both happy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I don't think it's bad for grandparents to take each kid separately for some fun time where that child is the sole focus, but taking one kid to Disney is not going to seem fair and I wouldn't allow it. The other two will be devastated and telling them "You'll go next year and you'll go the year after" won't help. It's fine for vacations to be a family affair with you, hubby and kids, the grandparent vacation is something different. Having the kids at their house for a week at a time when they live 15 minutes away does not seem necessary. My kids have stayed at their grandparents for that long, but we live in NY and the grandparents live in NC. Grandparents may also think that it's a break -but really it's only a break if they take all the kids, and if you don't want the kids away from home that long, it's your option as a parent. You don't have to allow it just because the daughters let them take their kids or because their friends get their grandkids for a week at a time. When my oldest was a baby, my MIL wanted to babysit so we could go to the movies - but only during the week, not looking to give up her weekend time at her weekend beach house and she couldn't understand why I kept saying no. I finally had to be very clear that working moms don't give up their couple of hours with their baby after work to see a movie, and when my daughter was a toddler and MIL kept offering a "break" by taking my daughter for the weekend, I had to explain that working moms were not looking for weekend breaks from their kids. But you see, her friends all had SAH daughters/daughters in law who were thrilled for weekend breaks and these friends would have their grandkids for weekends and would keep asking MIL when she was going to have her grandchild for the weekend. You have to do what you are comfortable with! Not everyone sends their kids on vacation with grandparents or to visit the grandparents who they see often, for a week without mom and dad

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

For the most part, I think it's terrific for each child to have a separate, solo relationship with their grandparents. I really don't, in general, think it's wrong if grandparents take children one at a time -- as long as there is an overall balance and it's not just the same kid all the time. A week at the beach for the grandparents and just one child sounds fine to me. I don't think it would take away at all from the Disney vacation you dream of -- though I'd object, too, if they were thinking of taking any of your children to Disney before you can.

That being said, just because they WANT to doesn't mean you HAVE to. If their supervision is more lax than you feel comfortable with, certainly say no. If it just doesn't work for you, say no. You and your husband need to discuss this privately and come to a joint decision. Perhaps there's a way to compromise -- like, your son can go for a few days but not all week or he can go with them for a week within a certain distance from home or no vacations without you yet but when the children reach XX years old, then you'll reconsider. Whatever works for everyone.

Think about it. Talk with your husband. Compromise might work. Communication is key. You need to feel that your objections (and they sound realistic to me) are heard and understood. They should feel that you've listened to and understood their wishes and what kind of relationship they want with your children. Still, your the parent. This is for you and your husband to decide -- not them just because they want to.

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answers from Omaha on

Oh my goodness! I would SO not allow this foolishness either!!! You really don't owe them an explanation other than "We politely decline your offer,so please respect our wishes. Thank you."You even have the right to not discuss it further. If they want to be mad then they will just have to be. It sounds like you allow them to see your children plenty, so they will just have to understand that that is how it is going to be. You make the terms and they have to just learn to be ok with that. Good luck!

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answers from Chicago on

It does not matter what I think, it only matters what you think.

This is the heart of what being a parent is about.
You makes choices for your kids that you think are best despite what others may think or say.
You decided what was best with their education, you certainly can make a decision about their vacation and free time.
Trust yourself, you know what is best for your kids.

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answers from San Francisco on

I agree with you. Ultimately, it is up to you and your hubby what you decide their role will be in your children's life. I don't think its fair for 1 child to go and the others left behind. Do what you feel is right. If they don't respect that then they can't have your kids over the way they want.



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answers from Houston on

Typically, I would say, let them take the kids! Not only does it provide you with a rest you maynot realize you need, and romantic weekend for you and husband... but it will likely be very fun for the children to do a weekend sleepover, even if it's just one night. My in-laws have taken our 5 year old for a short week vacation, and he loves sleepovers at grandmas.

BUT, when you said they let the 3 year old play outside without their supervision, that set off a red flag. That would be where I would place my concern, so ultimately the answer would be "No".

I would calmly and nicely talk to them about your concerns and let them know the true reason you are saying no for now. I'm sure they will ultimately work on these things and when the children are older and you trust them a little better it would be great fun.

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answers from Atlanta on

Anybody who will leave your kids unattended should not be left alone with them it does not matter who they are. Do you know how many children go missing everyday because of adults who are not watching them? I just seen a story on the news how a 6 year old was at his grandmother's house and she left the little boy outside unattended and someone came along and took him away. I know how you feel because I don't let anyone take my children out of the state either. Maybe when they get older I'll change my mind but for now I think they are too young. Even if you were going to let any of your kids go out of the state with someone, it will need to be someone who you trust and it does not seem like you trust your inlaws too much. Maybe you could suggest that they wait till the whole family can go. Then you and your husband and the children can take a vacation with your inlaws.


answers from Dover on

I definately get what you mean and would feel the same way. I would discuss things w/ my hubby and then tell his parents that we discussed it and your son can not go. They are your children, not theirs.

As for the way they expect you to just hand over your kids, my inlaws are the same way and much to their dismay, I don't allow it either. It's not like they don't get that we're the parents it's that they allowed their parents to rule when their kids were young and they expect us to do the same. That and my BIL relies on his mom for A LOT of help with his daughter and sometimes the lines of grandmom and mom get blurred. I work full time (much to my dismay) so we are home with our precious daughter in the evenings and the weekend and don't want to leave her with others during our family time. My MIL is disappointed that we don't hand her off like my BIL does.



answers from Washington DC on

I hate to be rude but....if they are not smart enough to realize that a 3 year old has no business playing outside by themselves (fence or not) then they are not capable of providing proper supervision to your children. There is no way on this earth I would let them have my children unsupervised even in their own home let alone vacation. Geez...a beach is a dangerous place without proper supervision. It only takes a few seconds to get swept out in undertow. I have a real issue in general with ANYONE (including grandparents) disregarding our parental rules. If you can not abide by the rules we have established for our children then you will not be permitted to watch them, period. Hubby and I have a general policy that if one of us is uncomfortable about a situation then it doesn't happen. If he doesn't like something that I've suggested with/for the children then it DOESN'T happen and vice versa. Even with our families. I've gone toe to toe with his Mother as well as my own sister over our girls. Mostly over what we would allow our daughter to eat. We no longer speak to his Mother but that's a whole other However we established the rules with our 1st born and everyone abides by them with both our girls now. If he or I are uneasy about something the other one backs us up no questions asked. I hope your hubby will provide a united front with you and decline the invitation. If his parents don't like it then oh well, they have to get over it. I would rather take the chance of hurting their feelings over the chance that something could happen to one of your children while in their "care." (Sorry but I'm still really annoyed about the 3 year old left outside to play alone. Have these people never heard of child abduction, children hit by cars,etc.) Our oldest is 4 1/2 y/o and our baby is 9 m/o. Neither of them have EVER spent the night away from us. It is very rare, I could count on one hand, the number of times we've even left them with a sitter outside of preschool/daycare. Good Luck and God Bless.



answers from Detroit on

I don't think you are being unreasonable at all, though I wonder if your concern is that if they spend too much time with them, your kids will turn out like the sisters. I would just make sure both you and hubby are on the same page and can present a united front to his parents on this matter. They are his parents, so he should be the one to deal with them. But it should also be a firm, "Thanks, that's very generous of you but no - we're fine and we will take the kids on vacations together has a family when we plan on it."



answers from Portland on

Since I dont''t know your in-laws, I can only agree that your concerns are probably legitimate. At least they are for you.

The kindest and most honest way I've found to turn down any request is to first acknowledge the positives of the person's wish, then use the connector "and" which puts the request and your answer on equal ground (thus not denying how important the other person's wishes or needs are), and then state, simply and clearly, "no, that does not work for me."

Use a calm, friendly tone of voice so you don't convey hidden anger, uncertainty, or anxiety. Avoid sounding apologetic or making excuses at all costs. Any of these simply weaken your decision and sound as if you are open to argument or further persuasion.

Might go something like this:

"Mom, I love it that you care so much about our kids and want them in your life, and I know the kids enjoy their time with you. I've considered your offer, AND no, that will not work for me. Perhaps we can revisit this idea in a few years (only if you think this could be true, though). Right now, the answer is no. I want to just stick to the visits at home for now."

If she pouts, wheedles, or starts arguing, repeat variations on the message above. Keep using the words "I want" and "I need." If she threatens to talk to to your husband, just smile and tell her that you and he are in agreement about this decision (be sure you are!).



answers from Memphis on

I don't think you're being unreasonable at all. It is a legitimate concern to not want your 1 year old child away for a whole week. A one year old without his momma for a week would be devastated!! I am sure he would think you were gone forever! The stress would be terrible I am sure. And I remember when I was a kid, my sister got to go on a vacation with our neighbors (to watch their kids) but I didn't get to go because they only needed one of us. I was terribly jealous and really upset that I couldn't go, and honestly I don't think it was fair for my parents to send her along with them while I was stuck at home. I would just tell the grandparents you don't want your kids to get jealous over one another because only one of them is going to Florida, and that you are hoping to go there next year and want it to be a huge family reward. It sounds like you need to tell the grandparents to back off a little, why are they being so intrusive?



answers from Chicago on

I would talk to your husband first so that he really understands your concerns and can be firmly on your side when they approach him later. Then a discussion with your in-laws explaining that you are already planning a special family vacation to FL for the following year. Maybe invite them to that if you would like to open up the family vacation experience to include all family. But be firm in your decision to not let your 9yr son go on this week long vacation since you want FL to be your special family vacation...I wouldn't bring up things like how they raised their kids or the fact that you don't like some of the things they allow your children to do UNLESS you have to. Make it about your special vacation planned for next year. Grandparents are great, they are special and they do a lot of things we wouldn't :)

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