How To Set Boundaries With Grandparents

The relationship between our children and their grandparents can be a truly wonderful thing. When it goes right, it can be a precious gift but we all know that there can be difficulties as we help our children, and ourselves, navigate these strong relationships and most certainly robust personalities with ideas of their own.

The likelihood is that our parents are full of good intentions when it comes to the nurture, love, care, and support of our children. But recognising the boundary of being a grandparent over being the parent is incredibly important. How can we guide our own parents to avoid crossing the line?

We all want that positive and caring relationship between our kids and their grandparents, but it’s safe to say that relationships can become quite strained when grandparents feel they are trying to help, correcting our "mistakes", or making "better" judgement calls. So, let’s remember a few things when it comes to parenting, grandparents, and boundaries.

When Boundaries Are Crossed

So, your mother cut your daughters fringe. It was getting in her eyes and she thought she was helping. While you may be angry, she didn’t ask you first or know that you were growing out her bangs, her intention was not malicious.

When boundaries are crossed, our parents may not be aware that a certain boundary exists. It is up to us to reinforce the boundary. Tell them why cutting your child’s hair is not to be done, reminding them that they are not responsible for any big decision in your child’s life.

Grandparents should remember that while their intentions were good, this is not their child and they shouldn’t act as though they are.


Parents Make The Rules

Grandparents make up a large cohort of childminders these days, meaning they may share the responsibility of caring for a baby or child in the family. But this does not mean a grandparent is sharing custody of the child or has the authority to make decisions about a child or change their routine.

Regardless of the relationship, when minding children, parents are the ones who still make the rules. When it comes to your child’s diet, screen time, and naps, a supportive grandparent will abide by your parental rules when childminding. And if they don’t, continue to reinforce these boundaries with open and constructive communication.

Building Relationships

To create a strong relationship with a grandchild, it’s worth encouraging a strong, supportive, and positive relationship with the parents first. Fighting over children is a sure-fire way to burn a few bridges and negatively impact on those important familial relationships.

Respecting each other’s boundaries, perspectives, and beliefs will go a long way to building a strong relationship which will help reinforce the child/grandchild bond.

Geraldine Walsh

Mum of two Geraldine Walsh happily works from home as a freelance writer chatting about parenting, wellness and mental health.

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