It’s commonly heard that grandparents spoil children, and many blame their children’s negative behaviour on the ever-giving grandparents.
Recent chats on this topic with colleagues has triggered a piece of my memory. I had the described mindset until the instances I argued with my Father-In-Law (FIL) and Mother-In-Law (MIL).
My Father said sternly one day “I have waited so many years to have my own grandchild (my elder girl), can’t I give in to her?”. My heart sank. It made me see from his perspective. From that day on, I refrained from voicing my negative views.
My voice then got directed to my MIL. My girl sticks to her a lot, and my MIL would run after her just to feed her. I tend to exert my views about her spoiling my girl. It all stopped the day we had a heated conversation on this.
MIL was in tears. She rebutted “She is less than two years old and spends so many hours in childcare; the only thing I could do for her is to ensure she has a full stomach when she is home!”
My heart sank deeper than it did when my FIL voiced his view. I felt guilty. While I wanted an independent child; I spent most of my weekdays working till the wee hours. And I had the cheek to instruct how my MIL should babysit my kids! I felt ashamed to have burdened my MIL to share my parenting views.
I struggled about this tension within me for a while; perhaps a few months. Then at a corporate training on “Accountability & Responsibility”, I realised I was too domineering. From that day on, I let go.
I shifted my attention on:
1) taking responsibility for my own kids’ life skills learning. (what and how I can teach my kids the thinks I wished they learn.)
2) appreciating the time and energy my In-Laws spend in babysitting the kids.
3) valuing the human interaction the grandparents gave to my children while they babysit. Socialising skills, that is.
4) viewing my relationship and rules for my kids separate from the “rules” my In-Laws have for them. Kids are smart; they don’t get confused when the person who calls the shots in the house changes from Grandma to Mother.
Not attempting to change how my In-Laws rule my kids took away lots of stress off my shoulders. Of course, some tension still exist, eg when my FIL allows my kids to bounce on this tummy. My hubby and I agreed that for such cases, we would scold our kids for hurting Grandpa, and let the message “no”, indirectly get into my In-Laws’ head (the subtle approach).
It is the parents’ responsibility to teach our kids the right behaviour, and teach them how they should appreciate their grandparents giving-in to them, and not take it for granted. Eg teach them not to keep asking grandparents for chocolates, perhaps with a story of the Hungry Caterpillar who ate so much junk food that it had a terrible stomach.