Grandparent Boundaries: Where to Draw the Line

What would you do if your mother gave your child pain medicine without your permission?

This happened to me the other day, and I am still in shock.

My daughter had gotten her braces tightened, so her teeth were a bit sore. I usually give her a dose of Children's Adviland she's fine, but I didn't have a chance to give it to her before she left for school in the morning.

By the time she got home from school, the pain had transformed my sweet beauty into a tyrannical beast. She lashed out at her brother when he dared to make a suggestion she didn't agree with, and she gave her father an attitude when he dared to call her out for it.

Around that time, my mother (Mimi) came over to see the kids. Sally's behavior had escalated to the point that my husband had to give Sally a swift "talking-to" right in front of Mimi. (This really embarrassed and upset Sally, of course.)

Soon after the scolding, Mimi took Sally out to get a snack, and when they returned, she was a totally different kid. She cheerfully went right to her room and did all of her homework. She even worked on a long-term project and practiced her violin with no complaints. She was nice to her brother, and she was all smiles during supper.

I asked her why she was acting so differently than she had earlier in the day, and she said, "Mimi took me to Walgreens and bought me some medicine, so I feel a lot better."

I was floored. Mimi knows how I feel about medicine and junk food. She won't even buy my kids a candy bar without asking my permission. But she decided to take my daughter to the store and give her medicine without even telling us?? What if we had decided to give her medicine, and we accidentally double dosed her? What if she had some sort of reaction and we didn't know why? The whole thing was just baffling.

Let me interrupt my own story at this point to give you some background information. You see, my mother and I have COMPLETELY opposing viewpoints when it comes to medicine. My mom doesn't think anyone should ever have to feel any pain or discomfort whatsoever. If my mom wakes up in the morning and it's raining, she will immediately take an ibuprofen "just in case" she gets a sinus headache. If she feels a tiny gurgle in her stomach, she immediately takes a Pepto Bismol tablet. When it comes to medication, my mother is VERY proactive.

She is especially sensitive when it comes to the children. She can't stand the idea of the kids feeling any pain or suffering for even a second. She encourages me to give Sally ibuprofen BEFORE her orthodontist appointments so she won't ever have to experience the slightest pain.

On the other hand (or the other planet, as the case may be), I believe that a little bit of pain is a natural part of life. Minor aches and pains are a normal part of our bodily processes. In fact, pain is the body's way of communicating with us. Why should you "numb" your body when it is trying to tell you something?

I gave birth to both of my children with no drugs whatsoever, and it was AWESOME! Did it hurt? Like you would not BELIEVE! Did the pain scar me for life? Absolutely not. Pain is a normal part of the birthing process. I was more in touch with my body than I have ever been before...or since. I wouldn't change a thing.

As for the kids, it's OK for them to feel a little bit of pain. It teaches them to listen to their bodies. It's also OK for them to run a fever when they're sick. It's the body's way of healing itself. We just don't rush to the drug store for every little headache or sniffle.

OK, back to the story: So apparently my mom had felt so bad about Sally getting in trouble because she was cranky because her teeth hurt, that she rushed right out to the store to buy her some medicine.

I was both shocked and upset that my mom would take on that kind of responsibility without my permission.

What do you think about this issue? Would you be upset if your child's grandparent gave your child medication? How would you respond? I would love to hear from my readers on this issue.

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