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Grandparents pleasing themselves

699 replies

WanderingScotty · 07/02/2024 00:01

My MIL and FIL look after DS once a week and occasionally at the weekend and have done since he was 1 (now 4.5). (They used to look after him twice a week but we already reduced this because of this issue).  

MIL and FIL are fantastic with DS in many ways - he loves spending time with them and they love having him.  He’s very lucky to have them.  

We have always had some “ground rules” for when they look after him - e.g watch sugar intake, limit screen time etc. It’s not strict, essentially everything in moderation and we just ask them to keep us informed so we can adapt as needed. 

MIL and FIL would admit themselves they are not the healthiest of eaters and have no desire to change this.  This has caused confusion in the past where they’ve given DS something they think is healthy but we wouldn’t think is (e.g ultra processed, low calorie).  FIL also doesn’t take well to being told what to do and can sometimes be a bully (which I admit gets my back up and makes it hard for me to back down).  MIL is very unconfrontational and will go along with anything even if she disagrees to avoid an argument (but will make subtle comments so we know if she doesn’t agree).  

FIL wants free rein to do what he wishes with DS when they look after him.  He wants to spoil DS as that’s “his right as a grandparent”.  Mainly this is give him sweets, chocolate, ice cream etc, buy him any toy DS wants etc.  Whilst we understand this to a degree FIL looks after DS too often to spoil him as much as he wants to.  My mum also looks after DS and it’s not fair on her if she follows what we ask when she too would like to spoil him more.  More importantly, this isn’t fair on DS as he gets confused or upset when there isn’t a consistent approach and takes sugar crashes after eating too much sugar.

DS is getting older and is able to understand and verbalise more.   This afternoon, he came home and told us he had 3 chocolate treats which they hadn’t told us about. We asked them and they denied this.  DS insisted he was telling the truth so we questioned them more.  

 FIL got defensive asking if we’d been quizzing DS after they’d left - we did but only after DS initially told us. This has led to a heated discussion tonight as FIL says he should be able to do what he wants, he’s raised 2 boys who turned out fine, DS is only with them one day, we’re imagining the sugar crashes etc. He also thinks we should trust them and not question them (despite saying he doesn’t want to go along with what we’re asking).  

We have outlined the reasons we’re asking them to follow our rules.  Ultimately he’s our son but we have them there because it’s what we think is best for him.  MIL is agreeable but FIL is grudgingly backing down.  It’ll likely raise its head again in a few months as this seems to be the way it goes.

AIBU for expecting them to follow our wishes or am I getting too bothered about it?

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

3218 votes. Final results.

You are being unreasonable
You are NOT being unreasonable
tiredinoratia · 07/02/2024 00:05

Seriously life is too short. He is loved and safe and whilst I understand your perspective, they don't. I'd drop it. You are causing the friction and will taint the relationship. Your son will (and seemingly is) pick up on it and conflict between your family is more damaging than sweets.

HelloMiss · 07/02/2024 00:07

Pick your battles

This isnt a hill I'd want to die on!

Dartmoorcheffy · 07/02/2024 00:07

You are being ridiculous and petty. They aren't poisoning him.

ArseInTheCoOpWindow · 07/02/2024 00:09

Grandparent prerogative. If you don’t want it to happen pay for your childcare.

Ktime · 07/02/2024 00:09

YABU I couldn't get worked up about this.

It’s not strict, essentially everything in moderation and we just ask them to keep us informed so we can adapt as needed.

This sounds very OTT, I can see why you get their backs up.

MrsSkylerWhite · 07/02/2024 00:10

It’s one day per week. If he’s eating healthily at home, is some chocolate really so awful?

LoreleiG · 07/02/2024 00:10

I decided early on never to micromanage anyone kind enough to look after my child.

Pacifybull · 07/02/2024 00:10

You can’t have it both ways- grandparents doing childcare and them doing exactly what you want as regards treats.

Boomboom22 · 07/02/2024 00:12

You are being ridiculous.

DinnaeFashYersel · 07/02/2024 00:12

I agree with all the other posters.

Give your head a wobble.

TempestTost · 07/02/2024 00:13

If he's coming home and vomiting it's too much and you should ask them to give him less. Otherwise it is fine. Stop telling your mum what to do too.

SlB09 · 07/02/2024 00:17

I begrudgingly agree with PP, I completely get your POV but it's one day a week. Your son will get to know the rules at home, rules at nursery, rules at grandma and grandad's etc. if it truly bothers you enough to have such an issue around it I would argue that you arrange alternative childcare.
They are showing their love through food, not ideal food but a few chocolate biscuits - they are not stuffing him with McDonald's for instance! They maybe just don't know or are not comfortable with other ways of expressing this love.

My gran (at my mum's hidden dislike!) used to feed us grandchildren sugar sandwiches and fried bacon rind when we slept their every friday............we're all doing fine 😉

WandaWonder · 07/02/2024 00:19

So stop using them as childcare good grief 'rules' they should be having rules not you

KnowledgeableMomma · 07/02/2024 00:19

YABU and being WAY too bothered. Your child is safe and being taken care of by grandparents who love him. They give him treats. They let him watch TV. It is not the end of the world and absolutely no reason to ruin a relationship. Let it go or you risk ruining a wonderful piece of DS's growing up.

jannier · 07/02/2024 00:20

Your not paying for childcare you choose to use grandparents then won't let them be grandparents. Is your husband that unhealthy from his horrendous exposure to this diet that your sons one day from 6 will ruin his life? It's a shame your mum isn't allowed to be a grandma let up on it soon your son will be at school and they will have an odd evening and what 10 days a year.

Mammyloveswine · 07/02/2024 00:21

Pleased to see sensible responses! Totally agree with the pp!

Merrymouse · 07/02/2024 00:21

They are unlikely to change, so the only question is whether you want the free weekly childcare. Presumably your DS will be starting school soon so will be spending less time with them.

sprigatito · 07/02/2024 00:24

I'm usually pretty hawkish about grandparents riding roughshod over parents' boundaries, but even I think you might need to unclench a bit here. They're not smacking him or making him do Bible study. A few extra treats won't hurt him, and it's not a bad thing for kids to experience different homes as having slightly different rules.

BarelyLiterate · 07/02/2024 00:24


They sound like normal, caring, indulgent grandparents.

You sound like a difficult, controlling, ungrateful nightmare.

Either chill out or find someone else to look after your son, preferably someone you are paying so you can set the rules.

MiaGee · 07/02/2024 00:28

You sound difficult, I'd refuse to look after your children. This wouldn't work for me with this level of control and questioning. No one needs to be told every time there's some chocolate ffs.

LauderSyme · 07/02/2024 00:33

Wow, you seem to be completely overlooking how lucky you are to have such involved grandparents who have done so much childcare for you!

You are giving the impression of being ungrateful and self-righteous. Please stop giving loving family members so many rules.

MermaidMummy06 · 07/02/2024 00:35

I actually understand as I was in a similar position. My MIL had DD two days a week and wouldn't listen to any requests for moderation or please no nuggets today. I didn't care about buying gifts etc, but anything they bought stayed there as we had enough toys already.

It was extreme, though. MIL was hugely obese herself due to her love of junk food & was teaching my DC to worship sugar. I discovered her feeding DD around 50 grams of sugar, plus fried food, crisps, etc. each day. It was affecting Dd's relationship with food as, because she was given whatever she wanted, she started to refuse our healthy meals.

i simply took her away & put her in childcare the extra days, saying she needed the preparation for kindy. The occasional babysitting PIL did didn't matter then, because it wasn't regular.

Dovewings · 07/02/2024 00:36

Three chocolates are not too much sugar over a day. Definitely won't give him a sugar rush. Let them all have some fun.

NoOrdinaryMorning · 07/02/2024 00:39

YANBU I'm 100% with you OP. Just because they're giving you 'free childcare' doesn't mean they can do whatever they like and make your child sick.
I'd put him in nursery instead OP.

ArseInTheCoOpWindow · 07/02/2024 00:39

You stopped your pil seeing him more because they spoil him?

Even though they love him and he likes being there? I never gave any rules, just let mine go and have fun. They turned out ok.

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