Getting In The Way: Signs Grandparenting May Be Hindering Your Parenting

April 22, 2019  |  
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Multi-generation family on bed

Source: Getty

I already knew what the deal was when my 4-year-old came frolicking to the car in her “backup outfit” with her father the other day when we picked her up from her grandparent’s house. As soon as he plopped her in her car seat and proceeded to buckle her in, he revealed, “She ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich after getting spaghetti everywhere.” The perfectionist in me dreaded the 20-minute drive home as I pictured her white and light grey GAP sweat suit covered in grease and Ragu that I knew would never fully disappear. I was pissed because I had just found that sweatshirt after it had fallen to the back of the dresser after searching for it all winter. I had sent my adorable toddler out of the house this morning looking straight out of an Old Navy campaign, and this evening she looked like she was rolling across the Olive Garden’s kitchen floor.

Let me be clear: I am not one of those parents who expects her child to sit in a corner all day so she doesn’t get dirty. I don’t spend portions of my paycheck on designer labels that she’ll grow out of in a few months. When she’s with her grandparents or playing, I expect that there will be dirt, crumbs, and other randomness. I low-key even enjoy the days she comes home with her edges everywhere, shoes untied, and a tie-dyed tongue from an ice pop with a smile. I know those are the days she rode her tricycle, flew kites, caught butterflies and lived her best little 4-year-old life. However, I’m noticing that grandparents, in general, have a funny habit of giving no f-cks at some points when it comes to spoiling their grandchildren and completely throwing out all the rules they once held dearly when they were knee deep in the stresses of parenting themselves. Like, seriously: How hard was it for my mother-in-law to tie a napkin around this kid’s neck or let her eat in an undershirt before she decided to let her rip the runway in the Chef Boyardee Collection?

I’ll be the first to say my support system is as good as it gets. I saved thousands in childcare because of two sets of retired grandparents that are completely in love with their first grandchild. I can sit at work and actually concentrate in a staff meeting because I have peace of mind that my child is with people who honestly would give their own lives for her. But as thankful as I am, I have to be honest about the fact that sometimes grandparents need a reminder that their actions may be in fact making their children’s job harder as parents. So often I’ve bitten my tongue or felt guilty when I get slightly annoyed that my mom is at the door with a handful of Oreos for breakfast for a toddler who just had a breakdown when I asked her to eat a banana. There are also times when I have a late night at the office only to discover my baby playing Mortal Kombat with her Pop Pop at 8:00 PM. As much as our parents are deserving of respect and appreciation for not just raising us, but also reprising some of those same duties, it’s important to remember that you are now the parent and allowed to make rules and routines that reflect what you want to take place in your household. You’re also allowed to reject values that you were raised with and parent in the fashion you think makes sense for this day and age. Lastly, with even the most incredible parents who did an excellent job raising you, you have to remember you are a completely different being than the person you are now raising and that requires change, growth and adjustment. You may have lived through butt whoopings and routine Robitussin and turned out OK, but it doesn’t mean that’s the best thing for your child or your style as a parent.

The following are a few signs that it’s time to have a conversation with Nana and Pop Pop so they can get on board with your style of parenting:

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