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How do you deal with grandparents like this?

(68 Posts)
graceandbeauty Fri 29-Jul-11 21:09:49

Whenever we see my parents they constantly interfere in disciplining my dcs and it's driving me crazy. It's not major issues just things like if I tell one of them to go and put on pyjamas and they don't go right away, I'm about to repeat the request but before I can say anything, my mum or dad is right in there telling them mummy will be cross and there won't be a story etc. Today we went out to eat and they just would not leave the dcs alone - every 2 minutes it was "don't spill your drink", "stop talking and eat", "mind you don't drop that ice-cream". The dcs did not once get down from the table and ate everything they were give but you would have thought they were being wild the way my parents were going on! They kept telling them to be more quiet even though there was no-one in the restaurant when we arrived.

I know you'll all say I should talk to them about it. However, we just don't do that. I know that sounds very weird, but it's true, nothing is confronted openly. It's like when I'm with them I am a different person from the rest of the time. They don't confront any issues, they repress everything. If I asked them not to interfere, there would either be a sarcastic "soRRY" or a complete denial of anything, followed by a bad atmosphere.

Is there any way to deal with this without a major showdown?

Eglu Fri 29-Jul-11 21:29:05

If you don't want to speak to them about it then the only option is to spend less time with them.

bettyspaghetti33 Fri 29-Jul-11 21:33:50

You have my sympathies, your situation sounds beyond annoying!

If I were you I would throw caution to the wind and make a confrontation about it in the best most constructive way possible. Make the point that they're your children and therefore your responsibility to discipline etc. Tell them what you don't want them to get involved with and what you don't mind them doing and be firm, at the end of the day you're the parent not them.

graceandbeauty Fri 29-Jul-11 21:44:04

Eglu we see them as infrequently as possible but they want to see the dcs, which is understandable.

Bettyspaghetti I realise that's the obvious and sensible solution but they NEVER talk like that. It would be the first time, and they would refuse to even have the conversation. I once tried actually, when my dad started interefering with dd having a tantrum when she was really small, and he said "well, I'm SO sorry" and flounced off in a huff. I'm sure the fact that I did that has been carved in stone now.

It has always been like this. When I was growing up I just thought it was normal. Now I realise it's very unhealthy and although I still struggle with confrontation I am very open with my DH and we discuss everything.

I'm sure there must be others with parents like this?

cadifflur Fri 29-Jul-11 21:49:12

Can you not address it in a non-confrontational way? e.g. next time it happens say, thanks for your support but I think the children get confused when we are all telling them what to do etc.?

graceandbeauty Fri 29-Jul-11 21:56:18

Even that would be taken personally! I have stood my ground with things like switching tv off when I think they have watched enough, even though the grandparents said they could watch more.

happyhorse Fri 29-Jul-11 22:14:04

No advice to give I'm afraid but my parents are the same in regard to never talking openly about any issues and I also feel like a different person when I'm with them. They are lovely people but so repressed and seemingly so embarrassed by discussing anything remotely emotional.

Maybe the best approach would be to think of a light hearted way of saying what you want to say.

graceandbeauty Fri 29-Jul-11 22:19:24

Thanks you happyhorse I knew someone would be along!

My parents are also very generous and will do anything for us, I just wish we could communicate more healthily. There is so much tight smiling and going along with things nobody wants, that's not reality though...sigh....

They will not change, and I don't want to cause a scene over this. I find it sad though that I am not really myself with them. I think you're right, make a "joke" of it, that's kind of what they do in these situations I guess. I think that can be confusing for kids, to say things so indirectly.

graceandbeauty Fri 29-Jul-11 22:21:23

Someone with a similar experience I meant, obviously I appreciate all the responses!

happyhorse Fri 29-Jul-11 22:28:31

It is sad. I wish I could talk with my mum the way I do with my friends, but we only ever do small talk. As you say they won't change, but at least we can make sure our own families are different.

You have to wonder how they were brought up to have turned out like this.

exoticfruits Fri 29-Jul-11 22:30:21

As they are not going to change and you are not willing to talk to them I would just speak to the DCs (depending on how old they are) and just say 'that is just grandads/grandma's way-they used to do it when I was little and I hated it too!'

bluejelly Fri 29-Jul-11 22:35:12

I agree with exoticfruits. My grandparents were totally different to my parents- v religious, v uptight. And generally quite screwed up! I soon learnt that I had to behave differently at their house. And in time they mellowed and I learned to love them for who they were. You have my sympathy though!

exoticfruits Fri 29-Jul-11 22:42:41

It depends on their ages-you can't do it when very little. As the get older explain that they love them but that is their way with DCs. You can even make a joke of it as in 'I wonder how many times they will have to say something?'
It is of course better to stand up to them and have the talk-but I can see that it is difficult to get out of the childhood pattern. Just let the DCs see that you are on their side. You might get a fiesty on who will challenge them!!
When they get much older you can explain your upbringing and tell them that you didn't feel able to change it.

Sparklyboots Fri 29-Jul-11 22:42:42

Is it so unbearable to have them in a huff? 'Atmospheres' only work if you get on board by feeling bad; could you wander around singing and happy as if nothing has happened? And ignoring all their snide attempts to make the atmosphere awful? My parents are the masters of passive aggression - they can have a full-blown row in complete silence. The only way to manage it is to refuse to join in. My rule is if they have a problem with me they have to be direct, if they want me to feel bad I'm not going to do the job for them. Also, I take snidey or passive aggressive comments at face value. Eg, when your dad says, 'I'm SO sorry' and flounces off, I'd say, 'that's okay,' and smile at him like I was generously forgiving him. He either then has to revise his position and play nice or directly have a clear conversation with you. That only cost around £4000 of therapy to work out.

graceandbeauty Fri 29-Jul-11 22:44:11

It's true that the dcs don't seem to questions the difference. We have had a few interesting moments though - we are very open and direct with them and they are allowed to say things I would not have been "allowed" to say, e.g. expressing an opinion different from mine, saying they don't like something etc. My parents take it personally if I don't agree with them. One of my dcs tends to go along with them, she seems to sense that they "need" her to agree that the meal was great, or whatever. She is quite a people-please I suppose, for better or worse. My ds, on the other hand, is quite happy to tell them he thought the meal at the other restaurant was better and maybe we should go there next time! (cue awkward silence....)

graceandbeauty Fri 29-Jul-11 22:49:14

Sparklyboots I would love your confidence! I am getting better at "forcing" them to be direct with me, e.g. they will ask if I want to do something, but it's not really asking, as I am supposed to say yes. Now I sometimes say I don't really fancy doing whatever it is. Then usually what happens is they ask me what I want then insist on doing that, with a weary sigh, making me feel like a spoilt brat. Why can't people just say what they want?

And yes exoticfruits, my ds is definitely the feisty one - he couldn't care what anyone thinks.

exoticfruits Fri 29-Jul-11 22:49:48

My cousin had a father like that and they all tiptoed around him on eggshells, including my aunt. It was quite funny as his grandson was made of sterner stuff and always challenged! (probably took after him!)

graceandbeauty Fri 29-Jul-11 22:55:21

It can be funny - when my Gran came to stay (who is even more repressed!) not long after DH and I got married, DH asked her what she would like for breakfast. She said she would like just one slice of toast. DH didn't know that the rule then was to persuade her to have 2 slices, because that's what my mum, and then I, had to do. So she got one slice (DH is from a "say it like it is" family). The next morning when he asked her she immediately answered "2 slices of toast please!"

GrannyS Fri 29-Jul-11 22:59:25

Speaking as a Grandma (a fairly young one i might add, i'm only 48!), it is VERY hard sometimes to watch your children dealing with their children. I have to bite my tongue quite often over disciplining issues, feeding routines etc. and about a hundred other little things.
I do manage most of the time to keep my gob shut but do chip in with the odd suggestion or comment. My ds usually ignores me or just says that's not how we do it and i accept that and slink away.
I understand graceandbeauty that you're annoyed by your parents interference but i think, if you don't want to or can't talk to them about it, you'll just have to ignore it and carry on dealing with your children how you see fit.
Have a bit of sympathy with them though. One day, when you're a Granny, you'll understand!!!!!

graceandbeauty Fri 29-Jul-11 23:05:33

Thanks GrannyS. I can imagine it's hard for them if they don't think I'm doing something the right way or the way they would. I actually wouldn't have a problem with them saying exactly that to me, as long as I can say when I want to deal with something my way without interference. But none of that is going to happen.

Ironically I could tell MIL not to interfere, she wojuld be fine with that as long as I said it nicely, but she never does interfere!

I hope that if I have grandchildren and feel the need to comment at time, my dcs will be able to tell me to mind my own business!

exoticfruits Sat 30-Jul-11 07:35:46

If you treat your parents like a joke with your DCs they will be able to tell you to mind your own business-all they will need to do is say 'Mum-you are doing a Grandma!'
I never know why people have such trouble with PIL, they are much easier because you have an adult relationship and can speak to them as an adult over the children. With your own parents you can easily get locked into being a 12yr old.
Could you not leave it to your DH to have a word?

ragged Sat 30-Jul-11 07:46:28

I think I'll feel the same, GrannyS. smile Luckily I'll be an OLD granny, and probably not have the energy to interfere.

The part that keeps me from being upset is knowing that the grandies generation think they are being supportive with this kind of thing -- they are trying to be helpful, however badly. I don't get it from our grandies but I sometimes get it from random strangers & neighbours. Luckily, because they aren't family, I can be quietly amused because DC are stroppy little gits just like their mother was so I know hardline/authoritative approach is ineffective (& not my style, anyway). And half the time I am simply not that bothered about minor arguments.

graceandbeauty Sat 30-Jul-11 10:47:18

Exotic that's very true about the PIL, it's so hard to change the childhood pattern with your own parents. I see DH talking to his own parents and wish I could do that. Often I see my parents without DH when he's at work but when he is there he goes into a sort of passive survival mode. It's very strange, as normally "passive" is not a word you would associate with him at all. I think it's because over the years he has learnt all the unwritten rules of my family and decided it's best to go along. For example, mum and dad get very jumpy if anyone decides to go off on their own to another room or out for a walk - we all have to be together all the time! Very stressful. However I do think that if it was something big, he would say something. For some reason I feel a strong sense of guilt at upsetting them - he would not have that.

TheSecondComing Sat 30-Jul-11 10:52:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FriggFRIGG Sat 30-Jul-11 10:55:35

oh thank GOD <clings>

my parents are EXACTLY like this.

it drives me INSANE!

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