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Grandparents should absolutely spoil their grandkids, but with a few important boundaries

People who become grandparents often say the experience is nearly as joyous as having their own kids. And in some ways, it’s better. Grandparents get to have all the fun and delight of children without all the work. Many grandparents look forward to “spoiling” their grandkids with lots of love and affection, special outings and experiences, sweets and gifts and then handing them back to their parents for the actual parenting part.

Parents, too, often look forward to the kids spending time with their grandparents, not only to have a little break but to allow them to build relationships. However, there can be some habits some grandparents fall into that cause unnecessary tension in the family. It’s not a bad thing to “spoil” a kid grandparent-style, but there are some healthy boundaries the grands need to keep in mind to maintain family unity and ensure that kids aren’t literally being spoiled.

Every family dynamic is different and there are countless individual circumstances that play into what spoiling looks like, but here are three main boundaries that all grandparents should keep in mind as they love on their children’s children:

1. Don’t undermine parental authority

Parenting is hard, as every grandparent (theoretically) knows. Trying to raise individual kids with different personalities into healthy, happy, contributing adults while not losing your mind takes a lot of thought and effort. Rules are a part of that. Every set of parents creates rules based on their own beliefs about what’s best; not everyone will always agree with them, but parents have the right to set rules.

Grandparents spoiling their grandkids might occasionally involve some slight rule-bending (two scoops of ice cream instead of one, for instance) but it should never entail blatantly going against a parent’s authority. If a parent says their kid isn’t allowed to watch something, don’t let them watch it in the name of grandparent spoiling. If a parent requires a child to wear a helmet to ride their tricycle, that same rule needs to be enforced at Grandma and Grampa’s. Inconsistency in rules, especially ones kids have been told are for their safety and well-being, can be confusing.

It might help to have an upfront discussion about what hard and fast rules parents have in place so that grandparents don’t accidentally undermine them. And definitely don’t do the “I know your parents don’t let you do this, but I will” thing, telling them it’s okay to break their parents’ rules. Just smile wisely as you add some extra ice cream to their bowl.

2. Don’t forget to say no sometimes.

One of the most fun parts of being a grandparent is having the freedom (and perhaps the means) to say yes a lot. But that doesn’t mean you should always say yes to any requests your grandchildren make.

Kids actually do want some boundaries, no matter how much of a fuss they may make about them. Saying no sometimes lets your grandchildren know that you care enough about them to offer thoughtful limits and that you yourself have some boundaries they need to respect. It doesn’t have to be a mean or grumpy “no,” but it’s good to not give every wish and desire a green light. Sometimes you simply have to say no because something isn’t feasible, but even the occasional “No, Grandpa needs a break from that game” or “No, we’ve had too much sugar today already” sends the message that not every whim is worth indulging.

3. Don’t compete with the other set of grandparents

It’s not unusual for children to have grandparents on both of their parents’ sides, especially when they’re young. Unfortunately, in some families, a competitive dynamic can emerge in which one side strives to be the “favorite.” This can lead to overdoing the spoiling as well as making kids feel like they’re being pitted against one side of their family. It can also fuel resentment or jealousy among family members, which isn’t fun for anyone.

There’s no need to one-up the other grandparents by trying to be more fun or more generous or more indulgent. Just be the best version of a grandparent you can be, and encourage the kids to enjoy spending time with all of their elders while they’re still around.

Being a grandparent is a privilege, and if you get to that stage you’ve earned the right to spoil your grandkids a bit. Just do so with these boundaries in mind so you can enjoy the joy and wonder of grandparenting with everyone’s blessing.

Source: Upworthy
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