Staying with Grandparents

Five Rules for Grandparents Visits

Staying with Grandparents

Water, air and cleanliness are the chief articles in my pharmacopoeia.”-Napoleon I

Grandchildren give grandparents the opportunity to relive their parenting days without all the responsibility and stress. It’s no wonder then that grandparents are well-known for their ability to spoil grandchildren rotten! Children need a break from rules every now and then, and a little spoiling can help children develop strong relationships with their grandparents.

When your children go to visit their grandparents, you can expect that grandparents will do things a little differently, and this is usually perfectly fine. Children benefit from being exposed to a variety of different adults, lifestyles and viewpoints. There are, however, some things you shouldn’t compromise on. Here are the 5 most important rules grandparents should comply with.


Safety can interfere with fun and spontaneity. No one likes buckling a car seat or restraining a child in a seat belt, but these are necessary evils that can save your child’s life. Draw a strong line with your child’s grandparents regarding issues of safety including wearing helmets, riding in car seats and childproofing. Beds for kids should be age-appropriate and constructed so that young children can neither fall out nor suffocate in them.

However, don’t confuse safety with opinion. Many first-time parents are so fixated on their children’s safety that they become quite controlling. If your child’s grandparent occasionally forgets to wash their hands, gives your child an extra cookie, or lets him stay up too late, he won’t die. Choose your battles and ensure that the battle you’re fighting is one for your child’s safety and not a power struggle!


Each generation takes a new approach to discipline than the previous generation. This is due at least in part to increasing knowledge in child psychology. We now know, for example, that spanking is generally harmful to children and can actually increase problematic behavior.

Your child’s grandparents likely have a very different perspective on discipline than you do. If they prefer not to use time-outs or gold star charts, there’s no harm in this. If, however, you are opposed to spanking or yelling, refuse to compromise on these issues. Your parents or in-laws should abide by your general parenting philosophy even if they don’t agree with it.

Basic Rules

Odds are good that the rules at your in-laws’ or parents’ house are more relaxed than the ones at yours. There’s no harm in allowing your child to eat a few extra treats, drink a soda or stay up later. While it might result in a slightly hyper child, your kid will not sustain any long-term trauma.

Basic rules about how to treat others, however, are a completely different matter. Your child’s grandparent should not tolerate hitting, sneaking out or lying and if your child engages in these behavior’s at his grandparents’ house, you have a right to know about it.

Food Rules

Most children fill up on soda and cookies at grandma’s house. If your child only sees her grandparents a few times a month, this is not a problem. If, however, your kid visits grandma several times a week, it’s important that she gets good nutrition. Talk to your child’s grandparents about making good food choices. Ensure grandparents know about any food allergies and know that children under 2 should not eat foods like nuts and honey.

Honesty and Communication

As children grow, they may tell their grandparents things they don’t tell their parents, and children absolutely have the right to confidantes. You, however, have a right to know about important developments with your child, so it’s important that your child’s grandparents communicate with you. If your child is making bad decisions, in danger or using drugs, you should expect her grandparents to tell you this. With younger children, grandparents should communicate openly about daily routines, discipline problems and other relevant developments.

About the author

Christobel Edwards became a grandmother two years ago for the first time. She feels this is not only the next step in life but also a time when you often have to learn to keep your mouth shut. She loves buying things for her grandchild and recently bought her a bunkbed with stairs.


Karla Urwitz
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