Almost HALF of all parents have argued with a child’s grandparents over how to raise the youngster – with discipline, food and screen time causing the most debates
- A national survey of 2,016 US parents asked about family life and grandparents
- Discipline was the biggest issue with 40 per cent saying grandparents were soft
- Other issues included grandparents treating other grandchildren differently
Disagreements over food, discipline and time spent using technology are among the causes of arguments between parents and a child’s grandparents, a poll revealed.
For some families, what happens at grandma’s house stays at grandma’s house, but according to a new national poll differences in parenting styles lead to arguments.
Almost half of the 2,016 US parents that responded to a national poll described disagreements with one or more grandparent about how their children are raised.
One in seven parents limited the time their children spent with a grandparent over differences in parenting styles, most commonly over discipline.
Discipline was the most common area of difference, with 40 per cent of parents saying grandparents were ‘too soft’, the C.S Mott Children’s hospital poll found.
Almost half of the 2,016 US parents that responded to a national poll described disagreements with one or more grandparent about how their children are raised. Stock image
The nationally representative survey included responses from parents of children aged 18 and under and asked about relationships with a child’s grandparents.
Parents said disputes involved arguments over what the child is allowed to eat and time spent on television or computing devices – such as phones and tablets.
Other thorny subjects included manners, bedtime, treating some grandchildren differently than others and sharing photos or information on social media.
‘Grandparents play a special role in children’s lives and can be an important resource for parents through support, advice and babysitting,’ said Sarah Clark, poll director.
‘But they may have different ideas about the best way to raise the child and that can cause tension,’ she explained.
‘If grandparents contradict or interfere with parenting choices, it can have a serious strain on the relationship.’
Discipline was a major source of contention, with 57 per cent reporting at least one argument linked to the way grandparent’s discipline youngsters.
Surprisingly 40 per cent of parents said the grandparents were too soft on the child and just 14 per cent told the researchers their parents were too tough.
‘Parents may feel that their parental authority is undermined when grandparents are too lenient in allowing children to do things that are against family rules,’ Clark said.
Some disagreements may stem from intergenerational differences, the team found, with modern ideas and views being contradicted.
For example, grandparents may insist that ‘the way we used to do things’ is the correct way to parent which goes contrary to modern ideas of parenting.
New research and recommendations on child health and safety may also lead to disagreements if grandparents refuse to put babies to sleep on their back or do not use a booster seat when driving grandchildren to preschool, researchers found.
In many cases, parents have tried to get grandparents to be more respectful of their parenting choices and household rules – with mixed results.
While about half of grandparents made a noticeable change in their behavior to be more consistent with how parents do things, 17 per cent outright objected.
Discipline was a major source of contention, with 57 per cent reporting at least one argument linked to the way grandparent’s discipline youngsters
‘Whether grandparents cooperated with a request or not was strongly linked to parents’ description of disagreements as major or minor,’ Clark says.
‘The bigger the conflict, the less likely grandparents were to budge.’
Parents who said that grandparents refused such a request were also more likely to put limits on the amount of time their child spent with them.
‘Parents who reported major disagreements with grandparents were also likely to feel that the conflicts had a negative impact on the relationship between the child and the grandparent,’ Clark says.
The findings suggest that grandparents should work to understand and comply with parent requests to be more consistent with parenting choices.
‘Not only to support parents in the difficult job of raising children, but to avoid escalating the conflict to the point that they risk losing special time with grandchildren,’ said Clarke.
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