The Grandparent Effect

October 3, 2012

As if I needed a reminder to the heavy lifting necessary in managing a child who has spent the weekend with his grandparents where “no” was infrequently part of their vocabulary, Drew had a temper tantrum for the books. Let me set the scene…

Last week Drew’s grandparents took him to his taekwondo class. At the fine establishment is a nutritious, accepting of credit cards, vending machine containing a hot ticket item – Pirates Booty. Taekwondo ends at 4:45. So when Drew asked his grandparents for the $2-ish dollar treat, it seemed like an easy thing for a grandparent to do and say yes. In living with a 4 year old, there are too many times in a given day that he is trying to persuade me in getting him that $2-ish dollar treat (all together adding up to $2 million) and the larger issue being that 4:45 is certainly not a good snack time for those of us who eat around 6. This week I did the unthinkable in grandparent world, I said “no.”

I feel that it is only fair given my last blog touting my parents tremendously for their care of my children, to be able to speak openly about a problem we are facing. It is called the Grandparent Effect. It’s the damage grandparents do while spoiling and loving their grandchildren a little too much. The Grandparent Effect is one thing when a grandparent sees their grandchildren once or twice a month and feels that they would like to give them a treat that is unnecessary. Its understandable to some degree that grandparents like to spoil their grandchildren. However, when grandparents are vital members to the upbringing of their grandchildren and spend several days a week tending to them, it’s a whole other ball game!

Please bear in mind that I say all this with underlying humor because I do feel that my parents understand to some level the role they play and know that they need to exercise some restraint. Yet that restraint that they certainly understand when safety is involved or well beings are/are not threatened seems to be very different than the restraint they exercise when there is available half an hour of unstructured time and they take my children to the toy store. My kids feel as if they should ever enter an establishment that has even one toy for sale, they should be able to have their pick of the litter. Considering my budget doesn’t allow for these frequent shopping sprees, I can only think to place the blame elsewhere.

I’m not exactly innocent here. There have been times I definitely could have put my foot down or outlined more structured guidelines to these values. But when push comes to shove, I really do want my kids to have everything they want in this world. I just don’t want them to be brats about it. And that means if it makes sense to not splurge on the Pirates Booty to close to dinner time, I don’t want to fight a massive meltdown to prove my point. Is that too much to ask?

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