Sorry Mom: Grandparents Follow Their Rules, Not Yours

Just a couple of rule-breakers
When you have a baby, people — well-intentioned as they might be — will come to you with heaps of advice. On the train. At the park. In the store. During a massage. After a séance. Anytime is a good time to impart a pearl of wisdom, even if you’re on your like sixth kid and, hence, your sixth go-round as a parent.

But there is no one as full of opinions as your child’s grandparents. They’ll let you know what you’re doing wrong, wronger, and wrongest and how they did it better when they were in your booties. And if they don’t think you’re following their lead close enough, they’ll just let your little one do whatever they darn well please whenever they get a hold of them.

Grandparents are notorious for spoiling their pookie poos, but sometimes it’s a real up yours to the rules that parents try to set. No candy before dinner? Yeah whatever, mom. Not when Grandma’s in charge. 


Thing is, they’ll put the very rules they raised you with under rack and ruin. What you weren’t allowed to even think about when you were under their tyranny, your own kids are now free and even encouraged to do. I guess time wears down Mom and Dad’s interest in being disciplinarians. Now grandparents just wanna have fun.

It’s one thing to establish expectations with a babysitter or a friend who watches your little pride and joy here and there while you and the hubs hit the town or you put in a couple extra hours at work. But the ongoing relationship with grandparents means that their whatever-goes attitude can be a permanent conflict against the principles you’ve set in your own household. Mom and Dad just don’t want to follow your rules. And it can be super nerve-grating, especially when your little ones are young and you’re trying to get them acclimated to the way you want — and expect — things to be done.

You’ve asked them 100 times not to let the kids stay up late on the weekends because it throws them off their sleep schedule for the week. Besides, you reason, an 8- and 5-year-old don’t have any business being up at 1 in the morning, even if it is a Saturday. But sure as you live and breathe, you call them about something completely unrelated and hear what? Your kid yodeling in the background. You check your clock. It’s 12:28 in the morning.

Then the excuses start rolling. Little Timmy wasn’t sleepy. He didn’t want to sleep in that big spare bedroom all by himself. He didn’t even get a chance to spend time with them that day. Yada yada and yada some more ...

That’s why I didn’t even really try to establish any rules with any of Girl Child’s grandmothers. I was absolutely sure none of them would adhere to anything I requested anyway, and if they did, it would be with a whole lot of commentary and uppity back talk. The formula was simple: Two grandmothers plus two great-grandmothers equaled my demands didn’t mean a doggone thing. That gang of headstrong ladies trumped me in seniority and childcare experience and made it clear that my novice tail had a thing or two to learn from them, even though I was the one who spent 16 hours in labor pumping out that little girl they were so busy doting on.

Once, for example, I took Le Kid to Brooklyn to visit with her father’s mother. She was still a baby and I didn’t want her head to be all exposed to the cold air, so I slid a hat on her — those sparse little patches of hair were certainly determined not to do the job — and hauled her up the four flights of stairs. Soon as I got in the house, her granny lit me up. “Why do you have that hat on the baby’s head! She’ll sweat to death!”

Suffice it to say every hat I sent over thereafter met with an unfortunate fate. Lost on the subway. Shrunken in the laundry. Used in lieu of baby wipes. I got the point and stopped packing them when she went over there. Mommy and the Hat, 0 — Grandma and the Clout, 1. There were plenty of other fails where that one came from. I surely could’ve stressed and chewed them out on a regular basis for insolence. But I figured I’d conserve my energy for a battle I’d have a greater chance of winning.

Do your kids’ grandparents obey your wishes or are they anti-rules rebels?  


Image via katesheets/Flickr

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