16 of the Absolute Worst Grandparent Mistakes

Michele Zipp | Sep 6, 2018 Being a Mom
16 of the Absolute Worst Grandparent Mistakes
Image: lolostock/iStock

grandfather child

Grandparents are truly gifts in this world. Who else will love your child unconditionally, be willing to drop any plans to babysit, and help them start saving for college tuition? OK, OK. Not all grandparents are of the fairy grandparent variety. That's not to say they aren't incredible in their own incredible ways. Sometimes.

Many of the memas and pop-pops (or whatever alternative name for grandparents you prefer) are deeply loved, even with all the things they put us through, thanks to their way of caring for our kids (and how they cared for us when we were little). But sometimes they cross the line, creating a situation no person wants to deal with. And that's exactly what this list reveals -- it's a collection of some of the worst mistakes grandparents have made. 

All of these mistakes, revealed to us by parents of kids of all ages, are cringe-worthy. Some are forgivable offenses -- often honest mistakes any rookie grandparent would make (and are made because of the love and bond they have with our kids). But others have created major rifts within the family. There is a lot of "How could they?" and "What were they thinking?!" and also back off grandma! when reading some of these confessions.

Relationships are hard work -- and that absolutely includes the relationship of child and parent -- and that whole thing becomes even more complex once that child becomes a parent and the parent is now the grandparent. In fact, it is often precisely that dynamic that causes friction.

Prepare yourself when reading these. Some hurt the heart. Some will bring out giggles. And others may also make you look at your own parents and think they're not that bad. 


    gmom cooking
    Alex Potemkin/iStock.com

    These grandparents totally crossed a dietary line. 

  • Ignoring vegetarian diet.

    kid eating meat

    "My kids' grandmother fed my vegetarian kids meat (but it wasn't really a mistake in her eyes)," KT T. 

  • Ignoring junk food rules.

    kid eating doughnuts

    "We lived with my ex-father-in-law for a bit and my biggest issue with him, which I confronted him on on multiple occasions, was the JUNK FOOD!" Amanda P. 



    These grandparents totally put their grandkids at risk. 

  • Killing the family pet.

    dog in driveway

    "When I was 7, my grandmother accidentally ran over and killed my dog," Laurie K. 

  • Ignoring car seat rules.

    kid in car

    "My child's grandparents let my 5-year-old ride in the front seat without a car seat!" Staci N.

  • Partaking in risky behavior.

    hot air balloons

    "I have a fear of heights, and I realize this is my thing, but it still causes anxiety for me. So you can imagine my freak-out when my parents -- who were spending the day with my kids at a festival -- sent me a video of my children (who were under 5 at the time) going up in a hot air balloon! I was so scared and called my mom right away. As it turned out, it was tethered to the ground and only went up about 15 feet, but still!" Jen D. 

  • Getting stoned while babysitting.

    grandfather sleeping

    "Does getting stoned while babysitting my kid count?" Anonymous.

  • Not paying attention.

    messy house kids

    "I was five months pregnant and not feeling well. Grandma watched my other kids while I took a nap. When I woke up, about two hours later, I came downstairs to find my 4-year-old holding a squirt bottle and rag, spraying the fireplace insert, and wiping it down. My initial instinct was that it was water, but, when I got closer to her, no, it was oven cleaner, and her long sleeves were SOAKED to the elbows in the stuff. My MIL was asleep on the couch with my 2-year-old ... who had a bump on his cheek.  MIL informed me that he had bumped his face on the hearth, and, also, she was sorry to say that he had pulled out a few pieces of insulation from around the fireplace enclosure, and EATEN THEM! She thought she got it all out his mouth, but wasn't sure. I packed up my kids as fast as I could and got the hell out of there. Thankfully the kids were OK, but i have NEVER let them be alone with her since then, and that was 10 years ago," Tiffany K.



    Thes grandparents totally overstepped.

  • Showing favoritism.

    kid playing guitar with grandfather

    "My mother-in-law adored my daughter and detested my son. For holidays she would lavish gifts and money on the one and give paltry gifts to the other. To my daughter's eternal credit, she always gave her brother a share of the money. She was offended by the favoritism," Sarah M.

  • Buying kid a phone.

    kid iphone

    "Dear grandma decided to buy my older one (going into 6th grade) an iPhone and gift it to her while we were out and the kids home with the sitter! What ensued was a fit from the younger child for not getting and going and doing something we were holding out on for as long as we could!" Lauren D.S.

  • Getting my kid's ears pierced.

    kid ears pierced

    "My mom took my daughter to get her ears pierced ... at the mall ... without my permission! This enraged me. First because it was at some questionable place where who knows how clean it was and also because this was an experience I was looking forward to with my child someday. She stole it away from me," Jessica L.

  • Dumping breastmilk.

    washing baby bottle

    "Grandma was visiting from Alabama. I had just pumped two full bottles of breastmilk to prepare and left them on the counter for a moment while I went to do something in the other room. She dumped them and washed the bottles. I was livid! She of course thought she was helping," Michele Z.

  • Taking kid to court.

    kid alone

    "I mean, taking your daughter to court and demanding visitation with your grandchild is right up there on the worst ever thing a grandparent could do," Anonymous.

  • Indoctrinating the kids.

    grandfather holding hands grandchild

    "My father used to be a huge part of my child's life, but we had to cut off contact when we found out he was indoctrinating her with religious beliefs and telling her not to tell us about it. It has been extremely painful," Jane B.

  • Arranging a baptism.


    "My mom arranged to have a child baptized without my consent and/or knowledge." J.M. B.

    "'Glad' to know my parents weren't the only ones," Linda D.



    These grandparents are making it mega hard for mom. 

  • Being selfish.


    "My mom was so incredibly selfish and overbearing during my birth process. She made it about herself. This didn't stop at the birth, either." Lauren R.

  • Doing the guilt trip thing.

    grandfather and child playing guitar

    "My parents are guilty of giving me guilt trips all the time. And it's creating a huge rift in our relationship. My mom especially talks about things I used to do when I was a kid and how hard it was to be my mom and how easy I have it with my daughter ... and on and on. My dad meanwhile steals all his time with my son and kind of ignores the rest of us. When my special needs daughter is being a bit challenging, at least challenging to me. It's as if she belittles me and my experience as a mother and how I can't hack it like she did. It makes me not want her to visit us, and that's an awful feeling," Clare W.

More Slideshows