Thank you, Hayfa!
“My parents are constantly spoiling my toddler — they’re always giving him treats and toys and sometimes they even let him skip naptime, which I pay for later. What’s a polite way to ask them to stop?”
Grandparents have been spoiling their grandbabies forever, and the reason is pretty simple — it makes them happy. Your parents and in-laws have done the heavy lifting raising you and your partner, and now — no surprise — they want to enjoy the fun parts of parenting. That’s why they’re so willing to indulge your sweetie when he begs for a scoop of ice cream for snack, one more story before bedtime, or a new toy. And they’re not alone: One recent study found that grandparents in this country spend a staggering $50 billion annually on their grandkids.
Still, all that generosity doesn’t get them off the hook. After all, they don’t have to suffer the consequences of plying your toddler with cotton candy or depriving him of z’s — you’re the one who has to deal with your cranky critter when their visit’s over. Also, if you’re choosing a grandparent as a relative caregiver, you want to make sure your child-care philosophy is still (somewhat) in practice when you leave your little one in Mom Mom’s arms. So how can you keep grandparents from spoiling your sweetie too much and get them to show respect for the rules you’ve worked so hard to set? Here’s how:
Enlist their help. Simply asking your parents to stop the spoiling probably won’t get you very far. Instead, find a quiet time to talk — preferably when your tot is out of the room — and make them feel part of the solution, not the problem. Acknowledge that you totally get that they like to indulge their grandchild, but you need to set a few ground rules. Then ask for their input. For example, if you’re peeved that your parents don’t think twice about the unhealthy snacks they serve, you can say that the dentist has noticed some tooth decay, and you all need to come up with a sound plan for taking good care of your tot’s teeth.
Let a few things go… If the grandparents’ spoiling is relatively minor — e.g., your mom slips your toddler a dollar every time she stops by — rethink whether it’s really worth making a fuss over (especially if they live far away and don’t see the grandkids all that often). After all, if they respect your most sacred limits (no scary or violent TV shows), you should be prepared to be flexible on a few things, too.
…but don’t compromise on health and safety. If your parents’ or in-laws’ treats include toddler choking hazards like hard candy or popcorn or they’re lax about buckling him up in the car seat or stroller, speak up. If necessary, print out articles, cite a higher authority (the pediatrician), and then lay down the law: No more treats at their house or no more rides in their car until they agree to take safety seriously.
What happens at Grandma’s, stays at Grandma’s. In addition to your anti-spoiling efforts, explain to your child that there are different rules at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, and that’s okay. Even little kids can begin to realize that staying up late or eating sugary cereals at breakfast is a special, only-at-Grandma’s-house treat that they shouldn’t expect at home.
Quarantine the loot. If your home is overflowing with the goodies your sweetie scores after visiting Grandma and Grandpa, tell your parents (and in-laws) that from now on, the stuff they buy has to stay at their house. Once the clutter starts to pile up there, they might understand your complaints and shut down the swag wagon.
Get tough. If your parents still aren’t getting the message after several (respectful) conversations, take a firmer tone. Tell them their behavior is causing chaos at home — and it’s harder to settle your sweetie down after every visit. You might also remind them that they had rules when they were raising you and now it’s your turn to set them.
Here’s to the joys of grandparents,
LOL, I wonder if our son will read it!