Marriage

When Grandma Won’t Abide By Parental Rules

My mom loves to keep our kids for overnights; but it’s become an issue because my husband and I have established expectations and a routine for bedtime (i.e., go to bed by a certain time, no electronic devices, no sleeping in parents/grandparents beds.) Grammy ignores our bedtime rules when the kids are at her house because she doesn’t want to ‘upset them” and only wants to “show them love”. When they come home, they challenge my husband and me for days to see if we’ll allow what Grammy allows. My husband says it isn’t worth the trouble and doesn’t want to let my mom have them for overnights anymore. That seems harsh to me, not only for my mom but also for the kids who enjoy their time with her. I have talked to my mom to help her understand it’s a problem, but it didn’t work because it upset her and made her cry.

Signed,
Caught In The Middle

Dear Caught In The Middle,

There’s a famous line from the movie, Love Story, which goes: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Your mother’s variation is: “Love means never having to set boundaries” – and it’s as much bunk as the original line.
It’s not anymore unloving for your mother to enforce parental bedtime expectations with grandchildren as it was for her to enforce rules when she raised you. Not-all-that-deep down, she knows that. It’s not that she can’t do it; she’s choosing not to in order to avoid conflict. This benefits her more than the grandchildren who need consistency in expectations regardless of whose house they’re in.
Both grandkids and grandmother need to embrace the rules you and your husband have set. Both may shed tears, but that’s not the end of the world. So they process some feelings. Remain kind and firm. Validate your husband’s leadership by letting your mom know the condition of having the kids spend the night is that she follow your established routine. She ultimately decides if it happens and your husband isn’t the bad guy. Also, the kids bear some responsibility in this. They need to know it’s unacceptable to play their grandmother against their parents. If they won’t transfer their routine to Grammy’s house, they have also made a decision.

  • mummywhomumbles

    this is my life! this is great advice. Now I have to find a way to communicate this to my mother that she doesn’t interpret as an ultimatum or me being ‘controlling’ (her ‘go to’ excuse whenever I ask her to do anything differently with my kids)

    • Wife Sense

      I feel for you! The way to pull the rug out from her “go-to excuse” is to own it like it’s the best thing in the world. “You’re right, Mom. I’m controlling. If I don’t take control over my kids, someone else will, and I’m not taking any chances.” Do try not to say “booyah” afterwards. ?