Is It Rude to Give Grandparents a List of Safety Reminders?

Updated on July 27, 2010
M.B. asks from Colorado Springs, CO
24 answers

My parents watched my children for two days this past week, they also watched my sister's children at the same time. In total, they were watching 5 kids ages 7, 5, 4, and two 2 yr olds. I was nervous about it and when I dropped them off, I put a sheet of paper with safety reminders on it (things such as - don't drive off unless you know all kids are inside, please watch them while they are in the tub, keep dishwasher closed, make sure no one plays with cleaning products, etc, etc). I also asked if they minded if I install a safety gate on their wooden deck (lots of wooden stairs!) I think both the note and the gate offended my parents. Was I wrong?

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So What Happened?

Thanks ladies! I like hearing both points of view! I think what the problem is, is that I don't trust them based on how they raised me! They never thought using chem-lawn on the yard and then letting us play on it was a big deal, we were rarely placed in carseats and they still don't think it's a big deal if the kids are in carseats, they see no problem with feeding small kids peanuts or grapes, they let my kids go into their garage and play with the tools alone under no supervision at age 2, they always let the babies "help" clean using windex, etc. They believe that "bad things don't happen". So I felt they needed a reminder!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Well...yes and no. They raised kids themselves. You know, they already saw this movie! lol
BUT sometimes if they've been out of the mode for awhile a reminder is a good thing. Like the suggestion of a gate.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Toledo on

They are your parents and your sisters (and maybe some other siblings?), but you felt like you needed to "remind" them to not leave the driveway unless all the kids were in the car, and not to let the kids play with cleaning products? Yes that was absolutely rude of you. If you don't trust them enough to have common sense, then you should in no way be leaving your children with them. It is one thing to make sure their house is "toddler-proof" and to make sure they know how to use the car seats, but what you did was way out of line in my opnion. If you had handed me that note I would have folded it up and stuck it in your pocket and made sure you knew how offended I was.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

It was rude, they raised you and you turned out fine. You give this list of things in your "so what happened" that you feel they did wrong, but that was normal parenting back then, everyone was not so uptight with the idea that EVERYTHING is dangerous. If you do not trust them to do what is right, than pay someone else to watch your kids, telling your parents how to parent is just plain disrespectful.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

A list of instructions, as reasonable as that seems in concept, isn't going to do much to increase overall safety. With 5 young kids to keep track of, when would your parents have time to peruse it? ("Hmmm, we're going to clean up after dinner now. Maybe we should go review our daughter's safety instructions – I think there was something on there about the dishwasher. Johnny, please put that down. Suzi, please don't poke Annie's eye with your fork! Look out for the noodles on the floor, kids…uh, oh!")

Whether your concerns are received well, or are useful, could be a matter of personality, as well as how the information is presented. Your first reminder above would have given me a "What kind of idiot do they think I am?" moment, even though I actually did this once with my own daughter when she was about 6, and my mother did this once with my youngest sister. But you learn by doing much better than you learn by warning. And some mistakes are easily corrected.

I would have been really nervous leaving my child(ren) with older relatives if they were part of such a large group, too. But I assume that your folks have watched your kids before and done all right with it, yes? Otherwise, your list of worries was basically your own way of trying to make peace with a situation that may have felt a little irresponsible on your part. No need to unload your own underlying guilt on your parents. Better to work out some other child care alternative.

IF you have reason to believe they're not up-to-date on new safety concerns or laws, then it's completely appropriate to be sure they know. The newer rules on auto travel with small children, for example. As granny myself, I appreciate knowing what special concerns my daughter and son-in-law have about their son's safety. However, an "idiot's list" might be interpreted by many experienced parents as, at best, amusing. At worst, probably offensive.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

Yes, very rude. And if they are that bad, why would you leave your kids with them?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I hate to tell you but the list was pretty rude. You have to remember that your parents already raised kids and are probably more cautious than you think. Now that being said, if they have displayed problems with being safe, I would consider not having them babysit for very long or at all instead of a list. People who don't take much concern with safety probably wouldn't adhere to the list anyways.

Good luck and maybe apologize to your parents and just explain that you are a nervous parent and just couldn't stop yourself. Make it your problem not theirs.

BTW - what does your sister say, was she worried about safety too?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I don't think you were wrong. Your kids are your life and if something would have happened and you didn't leave a note, you would have felt responsible for it. People who are not used to having small kids around don't always think of the things you mentioned on your list.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Provo on

If I felt that my parents needed these kinds of reminders, I probably wouldn't leave my kids with them for very long. The baby gate is something that I would do, and I would also install the carseats, but the other things I can see as being offensive. I tend to remind my KIDS about safety issues before we go to someone's house and then I mention to the adults what they can or can't eat because that is something only a parent tends to know specifically, with the exception maybe of a person also currently raising a toddler. I hope your parents are forgiving! :)

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answers from Colorado Springs on

Speaking as a grandparent, I don't like being spoken to as if I were dumber than a thirteen-year-old babysitter... especially by my own children. I love my grans and adore to be with them. But taking care of children all day is a big responsibility, and if their parents think I'm too feeble for the job, why have they brought their children over? Because I don't charge money? I would be tempted to say, "You'd just better find yourself a sitter you think more highly of. I have other things to do."

But that's about attitude. It's possible to double-check on safety and still not be offensive or criticize the people who brought you up.

So if you're going to worry in such an obvious way - and I'm a worrier like that, too - point your finger at yourself. "You know I obsess about all this stuff, Mom, and here I am doing it again! Thank you so much for loving my children and for putting up with me!"

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answers from St. Cloud on

I love that you said you don't trust them based on how they raised you. It's so true. Sure....they raised you and you lived BUT......they haven't been parents of little ones for YEARS and well, things have changed since we ALL were kids.

I don't think your note was rude or unreasonable. They should be very glad to be safe than sorry. There is a little girl in our town who lost a foot because her sweet grandpa accidentally ran her over with the lawn mower. Let's just face it.....grandparents don't need to use their parent radar and most of them don't see different dangers like we do OR like they used to when they were parents of young kids.

Even the most fantastic parents and grandparents need reminders. Last week *I* was the doorknob who left a bottle of Ibuprofen on an end table.

Good luck and I hope they understand that you aren't dogging on their g-parenting just want safe, healthy kids at the end of the day.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Junction on

I am a grandmother so I will answer from the grandparents point of view. No it is not rude, but the way you present it can be. Remember that the grandparents raised you (or the father of your children) and therefore do have some experience at raising children in a safe environment. If not, you would not be alive to give them the list of safety rules.

If you left me a list saying, "don't drive off unless all of the kids are inside the vehicle", that would be insulting my intelligence. If you have to tell that to someone who is taking care of your children, then perhaps they should not be left with that person.

If you say, "please be sure to keep the dishwasher closed because little bobby tries to get in there and I worry that he might get hurt" then that is a good safety tip because it relates to something that they may not know about bobby's behavior.

Asking to install a safety gate on their wooden deck is perfectly fine, but just like the other examples, if you make your tip, advice, or suggestion sound as if you do not think your parents or parents-in-law have the common since of a dog, then you are insulting them.

Certain things have changed since our children were babies, such as, babies MUST be put to bed on their backs and not their stomachs. This is an important safety rule that I would insist the grandparent follow because it could be life-threatening. However, if you put so many rules on how the grandparents interact with your kids, they may choose to not interact with them, OR not follow Any of your advice because you are being too restrictive and/or insulting.

Hope my answers helps you see things from the grandparents point of view.


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answers from Cleveland on

I guess it would depend on HOW it was approached.
I personally will NOT let my MIL babysit my son. Thankfully she lives two states away so I don't ever have to TELL her that. But I'm scared out of my mind at just the THOUGHT of leaving my son with her alone.

She is a great grandma, but she will put her dog outside and forget he's out there for about 4 hours or so. She puts dinner on the stove and FORGETS its there. So I'm not too keen on the possibility of her forgetting my son somewhere.

I think its ok to share reminders like that. I would just tell them to please not take offense to it, you aren't trying to say they don't know how to take care of children, it just helps you not be stressed out.



answers from Phoenix on

No you're not wrong. A reminder of safety is always a good thing..



answers from Salt Lake City on

I like people who are lax and allow kids to have a little danger in their lives, but its also a little scary if they pulled a car out of driveway without making sure all kids were clear, or walking away from a toddler in a tub. If they are not watching the little ones at all times to be sure they are not playing with knives or cleaning products, they may need a little opinion from you..
But remember, kids learn from mistakes, and I never had an issue being a lax mom. Kids learn fast when you tell them once "DO NOT touch that knife, it can cut you and you would cry"



answers from Provo on

I don't think you are wrong. You are the children's parent, and times have changed. Too often grandparents are just wanting to be "fun" and don't think about the negative effects they may have on a simple few days alone with the children. You have to deal with the consequences when you return...and I had to deal with a whole week last summer after a visit with one of my son's grandmothers. They may have experience, but they are not always in the "right" and you need peace of mind. I would be careful how I communicate my concerns, but if they respect you, they will understand your concerns.



answers from Springfield on

I think you did the right thing. It has been awhile since they had little people and rules change all the time (when we were kids no one worried if we had seat belts much less car seats). I don't let my in-laws drive with my children so you are nicer than me!
If they are uncomfortable with your reminders then next time maybe have them watch everyone at your house that way you know everything is atleast child proof. Safety is always the top priority not making people comfortable!



answers from Wichita Falls on

I dont think so....thats alot of kids to take care of at once and i know i would appreciate a reminder list! especially if i was a grandma!



answers from Philadelphia on

Not at all as long as your polite. My MIL for yrs was nasty to me. Now she has mellowed quite a bit. She does not have good common sense. Her kitchen table was lower than an average table. She consistently leaves huge knife on her kitchen table and doesnt think anything of it.
As soon as I would arrive at there house I would run in the kitchen and put those knives in the sink.
Another time she was nasty. I kept saying their is no reason for my kids to walk down the hall. They live in a ranch and she would leave her bedroom open. She said I have to many rules and I am too strict. My daugther found an open pill container and we were not sure if she put anything in her mouth. She felt horrible.
She loves my kids we are not on the same page with rules



answers from Denver on

I don't think the list itself was rude, or your concern, but maybe the way it was presented (I often have to check myself with that too). My parents are the same way, maybe it's a generational thing, but I really try not to have them watch my kid too often because of it. Our folks just don't like being told what to do, or that they could improve, because they think they don't need it. Um, humility, hello? Bugs the heck out of me!



answers from Colorado Springs on

It doesn't sound like your parents are on the same page as you are in safety with children. I don't think the list is a problem, or the gate. But, that doesn't mean they are willing to follow your rules. I would seriously reconsider leaving my children with them if this is how they do things. I would take them there with me though!



answers from Washington DC on

not really. the don't drive off and cleaning products were probably a no brainer, but it wouldn't have hurt to remind them that the old 3 all needed to be in booster seats if they went for a ride.

I was visiting an Aunt. She met us at the airport. I had had a brother who was driving through the day before we arrived drop a carseat off with her so that she would have it when she picked us up and I wouldn't have to carry it on the plane. She showed up without it! I had to put my toddler in the car without a seat. I was so nervous, hoping not to get pulled over, just get home as soon as possible. Then she stopped at like 3 places. I was a wreck!



answers from Indianapolis on

They'll get over it. Better safe than sorry, right? Safety standards have changed a lot since they had little kids. I'd make SURE they know what is safe and what isn't before leaving them with 5 of them!



answers from Atlanta on

A list is fine. Tell them you just want to make sure that everyone is on the same page. It also helps if someone else comes over and your parents need to run an errand....Tell them it just makes you feel better. I take suggestions from others all the time and I think I know what I'm doing. Next time just make sure you emphasize that YOU need to do it to feel good about leaving your kids.



answers from Columbus on

Maybe it was rude, but I bet you felt better having done it! My parents & in-laws are both big safety offenders, and we've had many talks with them about certain issues. They usually take it personal, but we care more about our son's safety than if we upset them a little. I have to think it's just a generational thing.

Be careful if there are things they are stubborn about, you may have to remind them over & over. My in-laws "forget" to put covers on their electric outlets. We have to take the covers and put them on ourselves each visit. My parents are really relaxed about stairs, I even bought them a doorknob cover for their basement stairs, but they also "forget" to put it on when we come over. Stand your ground, this is not a situation where you ever want to say "told you so."

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