When Grandparents Spoil Their Grandchildren

BlogHer Original Post

Everyone knows the job of grandparents is to spoil their grandchildren.  "Spoil-'em-and-send-'em-home" is often the attitude that young parents feel  about their once strict parents who have become grandparents.  But for the sanity of all involved, there has to be some sense of balance between the generations.

I recently (last week!) took a family vacation with my mother to Walt Disney World.  My daughter will be turning five this month and my mother wanted to buy her three gifts of her choosing for her birthday.  As soon as my daughter heard this, her eyes lit up and she immediately picked the most expensive Princess Jasmine costume in the store.  I quickly added the caveat that Mom or Dad had to approve the gift as well.  We let my mother purchase this gift as long as the other gifts were less expensive.  During the rest of the week, knowing that she had this "gift credit", my daughter was insufferable any time we came near a store (which is about every 20 feet in Walt Disney World).  She would try to drag us in, whining "Buy me something!"  In the end, she came home with the three gifts from my mother, and only one trinket from us.  Her take was reasonable, but her attitude was nothing short of totally spoiled.  I certainly didn't want to deny my mother the opportunity to buy these presents, because the delight in both their eyes was worth it.  Then again, we have had to deal with quite a monster of a child post-vacation.

My mother-in-law has a much more reasonable approach when buying gifts for our kids.  She always asks if there are any clothes that the children need, or any books they would be interested in.  Since she has other grandchildren, the spoiling factor gets spread out.  But she always brings a little something for our children every time she visits and now the kids have come to expect it.  Asking her not buy something every time has not worked.  Since it's not causing major behavioral issues, it's not worth creating conflict over.

There are situations where the delicate balance between parents and grandparents is not maintained.  There are lists of laws regarding grandparent visitation rights.  In one recent news story, a first-time grandmother went to her son's birthing center despite being told not to.  This incited grandmother from hell posts from the blogosphere.

Blogger Lisa Douglas chimed in on holiday guilt caused by too many gifts from grandparents at Type-A momMorethanMommy added a great list of suggestions in the comments as well.

In this holiday season of giving, keep a level head when it comes to grandparents.  Communications is key.  Let them know your expectations but don't deny them the opportunity to give.  Maintain a list of possible gift items year round.  In turn, teach your children about giving by donating used toys and books or adopting a family to buy for.  Grandparents can also choose to give non-material gifts.  If they live nearby, they can take the kids to museums, parks or cultural events.  If not, they can also give memberships or gift cards to local museums.

So what are your stories and tips for dealing with grandparents that spoil their grandchildren?  How do you maintain that balance between generations?


Spoiled princess Dova in her Jasmine costume.

Contributing Editor Angela (aka moonfever0) blogs about her spoiled kids at mommy bytes.


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