Reader Question of the Week: Respect the Line, Please

'Questions?' photo (c) 2008, Valerie Everett - license: weekend I like to post a question someone sends in and let you readers have a go at it. This week, we have a reply from our reader, who asked last week’s question.  Also, we have a new question after that, be sure to read and respond!

Reply from Brother’s Keeper:

I would like to thank every single lovely person who took the time to respond to my question.

It is amazing how I have gone from feeling very alone and vulnerable to feeling very supported, as a result of your posts.

The main thing I would like to thank you all for, is for giving me perspective.  This situation has been going on for so long now, that my attitude towards my husband has definitely been more on the nagging side, rather than from the perspective of a supportive loving wife (which is how I started out, but I will be the first to admit I have let our marriage down by not continuing with this approach).

To answer a few of your questions:

1.       My husband believes in God, but does not attend church.   This is another area that we are working on at the moment, as it is something that I believe a husband and wife should do together to set an example for their child

2.       My mother-in-law and I have quite a good relationship, and she is a very active part of our daughter’s life.  I don’t believe that my daughter should be deprived of a grandparent because of my personal issues.

3.       The brother’s wife does not work –her children attend day care. 

4.       Yes, I work my $300 per week job, not so much to “make ends meet” but so that we can get ahead.  This is my version of “squirreling away” money, because I pay it off debt, or put some aside for a home loan deposit.   This money has paid back nearly all of the debt that was left from the bankrupt client, so I am happy to be able to support my husband in this way.

I am fortunate enough to work from home in my job, which means that my child does not have to attend day care.

5.       We live in Australia, where the hourly rate for the job that the brother does is $20 per hour for someone who provides their own tools and car.

6.       The brother does not have any illness / disability. He is 30 years old.

7.       My husband is very non-confrontational.  He prefers to stick his head in the sand and hope the problem goes away. 

8.       My husband is a very loving man, devoted father and hard worker.  This is our only source of conflict, and therefore I do not wish to leave the marriage.

Again, I would like to thank you all for your support.  I have immediately revisited my approach towards my husband – lots of praise, cuddles and just general “newly wed” things that have slipped away over the last year or so.

I will continue to hold my $300 per week job, as I feel that it is my contribution towards not just our future, but that of our daughter. 

I will continue to pray and pray and pray, and for now, I am going to “zip my lips” about the brother.  My husband is very clear on where I stand on the matter, and so now I am going to give him a few weeks to work on it himself before I bring it up again (this time in a loving, kind and supportive manner).

I have gently suggested again this evening that we attend church together.  He said “it isn’t his thing”.  I explained that we have friends who regularly go to church and their marriages seem to be very strong, and they have also had the support of the church during tough times.  He still stuck to his guns.    

Wish me luck! 

This week’s question is a struggle many of us havehow do you deal with extended family undermining your authority with your children?

How do you set boundaries with in-laws regarding how they treat your children? My parents-in-law live 20 minutes from us. They consistently undermine my authority with my daughter and don’t stick to the schedule I’ve given them when they baby-sit her.  They allow her to misbehave and tolerate behavior that we don’t put up with in our home.

What boundaries do you suggest? How would you handle it?


  1. The way you raise your children will have a much larger impact on them than the way your in-laws treat them since you are with them so much more. Discipline her after she is with your in-laws for her behavior and tell her that her behavior with her in-laws won’t be tolerated. You can’t change your in-laws just as you can’t change your husband. If you have already spoken to them about it, don’t bring it up again. As far as your husband going to church, don’t ask him about it again. Just keep going to church and loving on him as you are doing. Show Jesus to him and it will draw him to you.
    Lori recently posted…Election ReflectionsMy Profile

    • I disagree with disciplining her afterwards. Since it would be a good while after the fact, there may be a disconnect and not help anything. I think children learn that things are a little more lenient at gramma and grampa’s house, so unless the behavior is harming somebody else, I would let it slide.

      • I think it depends on the age. My three-year-old would need to be disciplined right away or not at all. My seven-year-old can easily understand what the expectations are and that a consequence later is the result of his poor choice.

  2. I am actually pretty anti-‘let your in-laws be your daycare’. I’ve seen this so many times, as they are they grandparents, they shouldn’t be expected to raise the child. At the same time, when you aren’t paying them, its a gift they give, you really shouldn’t look that gift-horse in the mouth. In fact, I know one gal who’s MIL very graciously has provided day care for her son while she was working full time. Now that she’s home with the boys, she is having to break the older child (2 years old) of a major TV habit. Grandma just let him watch TV all he wanted, she saw nothing wrong with it. And that was easiest, especially on the days she didn’t feel great. Grandma also would just give the boy formula when my friend was working very hard to pump breastmilk for the child. Grandma just never said that she was running out of breastmilk during the day. Seems to me that this arrangement just isn’t worth it.

    If, on the other hand, you are paying the in-laws for their child care, that’s at totally different situation.

    And if this is about Friday night babysitting… well, noone is going to discipline like Mom does. and if its a few hours once or twice a week, that is minor influence. If it is really bothersome (like Grandma shovels sugar into the child), well, address it directly. Son/Husband needs to get involved, he needs to step up and deal with his parents… they are his parents and he should defend his wife and child.

    Yeah, I feel quite strongly about this. On the one hand, a grandparent shouldn’t be expected to raise a child. On the other hand, a grandparent should respect a parent’s wishes.
    Rachael recently posted…Moms and SonsMy Profile

  3. It sounds like you have a close relationship with them, so they ARE going to be a big influence in how your daughter turns out. I would talk with them about your concerns, also prep your daughter before she visits on her behavior and what the consequences will be at home if she acts up. Is the bedtime thing really an issue? Is it on school nights? Grandparents should get to spoil kids a little bit more than parents I think. Do they undermine your authority when you are there or is it when they are in charge, because if you aren’t there, then you are kind of giving them authority and you should respect that, but if it is right in front of you, then you need to stand up to them and be firm.
    Sis recently posted…We Are Never AloneMy Profile

    • They have actually undermined me in front of our child. Then my MIL will tell me some things when our daughter returns that I disagree with or do not allow. I will talk about it with my hubby. He is very non-confrontational. He is of the mind-set that if it doesn’t negatively impact our family, then it isn’t a big deal. He has started to tell his mother when certain things need to be changed.

  4. We struggle with this, too. I have, personally, had to relax a little. I can’t expect people to care for my children exactly like I would. If I do want that, then I simply may not be able to leave them very often, you know? There are people who enforce bedtimes (with maybe one or two extra stories) and don’t let them eat too many sweets (maybe 1 serving of chocolate pudding for dessert), and those are the people I want to watch them more often. The others I just don’t ask as often.

    But when those people do watch them, I decide on which things are non-negotiable. I am non-negotiable about carseats and some other safety things. I am VERY CLEAR about my expectations about these issues and try to let the other things go. My older son is old enough that I can be clear with him about what the expectations are and tell him what the blessings/consequences will be for his behavior choices. For my younger kids, that’s all way too confusing with multiple authority figures, so I just take a deep breath and try not to obsess.

    • I didn’t address undermining your authority. Do they directly counter you in front of your child? If so, that will have to be addressed – hopefully by your husband. I don’t enjoy confrontation, but I have had to say a couple of times, “These are the rules in our family!” or something like that…hopefully with a light tone and a smile on my face. If that isn’t enough to remind them that I’m the parent, then my husband would need to bring it up with them.

  5. I guess it depends on the nature of the types of behavior the in-laws tolerate and how often it occurs. If it’s just a matter of letting the child stay up a little later rather than having a strict bed-time or something like that, I wouldn’t consider it a big deal, especially if the child still behaves at home. A child can understand that grandma and grandpa are a little more permissive, but the have to behave better, less rowdy and such at home.

    On the other hand, if the grandparents are enabling disobedience, allowing improper things (such as movies the parents don’t want the child to see), or actively (or even passively) encourage the child to see her parents as too restrictive, no fun, making silly rules, etc then more serious measures are needed. In such a case I would severely limit the amount of time the child has with her grandparents. I would find another sitter, for example. If the grandparents are undermining the parents’ authority, it is in the child’s best interest not to be around them frequently.

    If the grandparents ask why they are no longer babysitting, tell them that you need for her to be cared for by someone who will uphold your authority and your choices for your child. For her own good, she must have boundaries and learn to respect authority. If they can uphold your standards and your authority as her parent to make decisions for her, they can watch her, but otherwise you will find someone else.
    Lindsay Harold recently posted…Demolishing Pro-Choice ArgumentsMy Profile

    • I completely agree with this. I think this is spot on.

    • This has helped me so much, and I’m not even the reader with the question. We have had some real problems with my MIL undermining our authority as parents- both in our presence (which is dealt with swiftly and respectfully) and when she has babysat for us.
      For example, we are *VERY* picky about what our children watch on television (we don’t even have one in our home). Our children know our rules and know they are expected to obey them even when we’re not around. Furthermore, my MIL knows our rules. The last time we left our kids out my MIL’s house (with specific instructions to her as far as what they could watch and not watch), she turned on a movie that she and my children knew we would not approve of. They told her that the movie in question would not meet our standards. She ignored them, so they decided to go watch television in another room (without a fuss, just my oldest telling his brother and sister “Come on. Let’s go watch something in here.”). She said “I’m a big girl, and I know what you should watch,” and proceeded to make them- MAKE them- stay in that room and watch the movie until she finally had to turn it off b/c it was scaring her other set of grandchildren (it wasn’t a *horrible* movie according to some standards, just not something I would let my children watch). This made me very angry b/c my children were put in a very hard position- they were trying to obey and their grandmother was forcing them to disobey.
      Another incident that same night… My niece wanted to take a bath with my daughter. My daughter sneaked away and called me to ask what I thought about it (just a hint of how that night went, that my child felt the need to sneak so she could call me). I told my daughter that she was too old to be bathing with someone else and she needed to take her bath separately. When my MIL found out that my little girl had called me she was angry, and said “That’s just silly!”(speaking of my decision on the shared bath time)
      My husband and I discussed it after we heard the whole story and decided that rather that addressing it again and causing more turmoil in the family, we would just no longer allow our kids to stay at her house without us there to supervise and intervene if need be. That was over 2 years ago. I don’t even think she’s noticed that they’re not staying alone with her (probably b/c occasionally we’ll all go spend the night at her house), but lately, she’s been telling the kids that she wants them to come and spend the night with her during the Christmas season.
      I do. not. like. strife. BUT I will do what I have to for my children. It just makes me nauseous to even think that my husband might have to get into an argument with his mom. Please don’t get me wrong, I love her dearly. She just doesn’t agree with a LOT of our decisions about our kids (my quitting work, homeschooling, our too-strict-to-her rules), and she doesn’t feel that she should have to do as we ask with our kids. I have been agonizing over how to handle this when it comes up, and you just gave me the answer. My experiences tell me that she’s still going to hit the fan, but at least we will have valid Biblical explanations that we can respectfully give to her.
      Thank you soooo much!!!!

      P.S. Please don’t think that we just keep our thumb on our children about every little thing. As far as the TV thing goes, we strive to keep our children’s hearts and minds as pure as possible in the world we’re living in. We believe that the least little impure thing can become a stumbling block for them in the future. They’re gonna see enough junk on trips to Walmart and the mall without having it piped into their little brains while they’re in a “zombie” state in front of a television.
      As for the bath, my daughter was probably still at an age where to most it would have been acceptable for her to take a bath with another little girl, but my daughter is a little different in that parts of her body are developing much earlier than they “should” be.
      I’m actually very lenient with my children on most things, and I make sure to leave plenty of room for the grandparents to be “grand.” BUT I draw the line when it comes to undermining or overruling my authority.

      • Sorry for the novel!!! 😛

        • Eva, bless you for your efforts to guard the hearts and minds of your children. I suffered through many nightmares as a child from watching children’s movies that were obviously too much for me at the time. I was also taken to R-rated movies when I was really young because my father wanted to see them. I wish I could erase what I saw from my memory bank. You’re totally right that free babysitting is not worth the damage to young minds.

        • No need to apologize for the novel…I really appreciated reading it. My husband and I don’t have kids yet, but I can see us heading in your direction with raising kids (no tv, homeschooling, etc). This (like your situation) is different than how my in-laws (and my parents) live. So it will be interesting to see how stuff like that plays out once we have kids. Thankfully, it takes a 12 hour drive to get to the town where our parents (both sides) live.

          Also, that’s great that even in that difficult situation, your kids wanted to honor you by not watching that movie! It sounds like you’ve trained them well!

  6. My experience has been, never ask the family or other relatives to babysit your kids. Spend time with relatives, but be right there with the family and your kids.
    If you are there in a situation that is conflicting, discuss it privately with the relative and tell them how you handle the situation at home. If they cannot learn to respect your wishes then take the child home or away from whatever it is she/he is doing wrong and discuss it with her/him.

  7. I agree with Lindsay, above. To a certain degree, you have to let grandparents be grandparents. Yes, they might not keep your schedule and they might give your kids more sweets than you do–things like that. But those are things you can let go for the big picture. The big picture is that someday your kids are going to remember those late nights hanging w/Grandma/pa, eating yummy stuff, etc.

    But the issue of discipline gets trickier. How much are grandparents supposed to get involved in that? I think it’s understood that, just like any babysitter, when the kids are with them, they have to obey the regular house rules and the one who’s in charge. If your child is old enough, you can talk to the child about expectations for behavior before you leave, then follow-up with specific questions when you get back.

    Again, I tend to err on the side of the grandparents. Their job is not to parent your children. Their job is to love on them in their own unique ways and spend time with them. I think the fact that they want to be involved is saying something positive about them. The rest can be discussed or ironed out over time–and with lots of prayer.
    Heather Day Gilbert recently posted…The Honest Homeschooler–Janet Berry on Homeschooling for (Almost) FreeMy Profile

    • I don’t mind allowing our child to spend time with the grand parents. I feel, it is easier to “be” a parent when you have the support system of the grand parents or those who are closet to child. I think it may make it easier on the child if they see consistency with all parties involved closely in their lives.

      I do believe in allowing those involved in the child’s life to spoil the child with love. Allowing the child to yell at, not clean-up, eat lots of sugar, have “their” way is not lovingly spoiling them. It is spoiling them to selfish and disobedient.

      • With all due respect, just wondering why the child yells at the grandparents? Does the child yell on a regular basis? This is definitely something you could discuss with your child and demand they change that behavior w/their grandparents (and with you, if necessary!). As for the not cleaning up, I wouldn’t worry about it unless it bothers the grandparents. I think when the kid eats lots of sugar, they’re going to be more hyper anyway! But I do think that’s a typical thing that grandparents do.

        And sounds like your hubby is addressing some of the bigger problems with his parents, which is good. Sometimes, a guy won’t step up at ALL.

        And sometimes, you do have to PRAY your head off and then address massive, looming issues (like open disrespect for your authority). But I’ve definitely found that looking back, the things I thought were massive issues were not. I just posted about some in-law tactics that I think keep things running smoothly–you have to show respect for THEM first. Kind of a Ruth/Naomi thing. (

        It’s obvious you value grandparent involvement in your child’s life. So you’ll either have to decide that their spending time w/your daughter trumps being able to control your child’s behavior/parents-in-law’s action while you’re away, or you’ll have to deal w/your issues head-on in a confrontation. Just pray PRAY pray first!
        Heather Day Gilbert recently posted…The Honest Homeschooler–Janet Berry on Homeschooling for (Almost) FreeMy Profile

  8. I agree with several posts above, with the addition that not having lived near family for most of our children’s growing up years so far, I would have loved having Grandparents nearby who were able to develop close relationships with my kids. We were blessed at different times to have non-related older adults who filled that role for a time, and I am so thankful to them! Although there are some things (safety issues, movies that are totally inappropriate, verbally undermining our parenting to the kids, etc) that I would have to stand my ground on, bedtimes, snacks, etc pale in comparison to having an adult that deeply loves my children and I don’t expect Grandparents to parent them as I would. This is their time to be “Grand” parents, and that’s a special relationship that can result in amazing memories and relationships.

  9. When you ladies have issues with the in-laws, do you address them or does your hubby?

    • Always my husband. We have a rule– I handle my people and he handles his. :) But he wouldn’t mind my talking to his parents, I just personally feel that they need to hear any issues from him.

    • My husband 99% of the time.
      With that being said, if my authority is being undermined, I use it as a training moment for my children. For example, one time my MIL, my kids and I were all sitting at the table. I told my children that they had had enough candy. Within seconds, my MIL tells them to get one more piece of candy. Without even addressing my MIL, I looked my children in the eye and said, “If you eat more candy, you will be disobeying me and you will get in trouble.”
      I have also been known to open my mouth when I probably shouldn’t have (the other 1%). Once my MIL, FIL, and husband had gotten into a disagreement- nothing major or loud, just getting a little irritated with one another. I just sat back and listened until my FIL looked at my son (2 YO at the time), and said “Tell Daddy to be quiet. Say just. be. quiet., Daddy.” Honey, that flew all over me and before I knew it, I snapped my fingers at my FIL and said, “No, sir! He does NOT tell his daddy to be quiet!” Needless to say, our visit ended sooner than we originally planned. :)
      As a rule, though, my hubby addresses any issues, which is completely fine with me b/c I’m generally a non-confrontational person. It’s just that being a wife/mother can occasionally bring out the she-bear in me! 😉

      • I wish I had I could say what I wanted to. I tell my mother, grandmother and hubby and go on. But I don’t my hubby’s parents. His mother is so sensitive-like walking on eggshells with her. But I have started to say a few more things to her…and it feels empowering!

      • I also should probably mention that I don’t have to worry about making this decision (to speak or not to speak) very often at all. My husband is completely willing to handle any “situations” that may arise. For that I’m very thankful! (I also know I’m verrrry blessed with my gem of a husband)

  10. We don’t see my inlaws as much as they would like. We only do supervised visits because they went directly against our wishes the couple times we allowed them to babysit. My kids love them and appreciate when we see them a few times a year but don’t know any different than seeing them only sporadically. My support system mostly comes from other mom friends. Friends who do respect my wishes. I’m also blessed enough to have my own parents nearby and, though the don’t always agree, are willing ot abide by my wishes. We came to the point that our child raising philosophy/style is much more important than grandparent’s wanting sleep overs and such. Our children still get to develop a relationship with them but it is oun our terms, not theirs.
    As for addressing issues with them, usually my husband does this. They are his parents so they are his responsibility. Sometimes I will “nudge” them in the right direction if it is a minor thing or I will initiate the conversation and then allow/ask my husband to take it from there. We have found that they are much more willing to accept disagreements when it comes from him. He will always be their son and I will always be the one who “stole” him from their family, unfortunatly. Plus I really don’t need them saying things behind my back about how I’m a controlling and domineering wife who has their son brainwashed (paraphrased and they are a bit more eloquent with their terminology but you get the jist of it).
    Tessa W recently posted…In the Thick of ItMy Profile

    • Oh I am sure they think I am controlling and have their son brainwashed as well. But in the end, it is what is best for our children and family! I totally agree with you on that!

    • I am the reader who initially asked Sheila this question.

      Since this whole conversation another event has surfaced. One night my oldest daughter was staying all night with my in-laws. As she was going to bed, she was asking for me. In response to this my mother-in-law told her, “Mommy isn’t here. But I will be your mommy.” She apparently thought this was something I needed to know. So instead of her telling me once about this, she repeated it 3 times to me. Then today, my daughter was again yelling for me. My M-I-L thought I was not listening and responded, “Whaaattt. Whaaattt?” When I popped out of the room, she laughed and told my daughter that I had found her.

      I am obviously NOT okay with this. I told my hubby about the first incident. He totally agreed with me and didn’t understand why she said that. I have thought about sending her an e-mail telling her that I don’t appreciate this. Because my daughter proceeded to ask me if Nana was her mommy, I told her no. That I was her one and only mommy. And that she has a Nana, Memaw etc. …but I am her only mommy.

      Any advice…?

      • Crystal, I think I would ask your husband to deal with this. He agrees with you, so I think asking him to talk to his mom would be the best thing. And then reconsider whether you really want her staying with your in-laws overnight!

  11. Yes, I am the person who will turn to comedy. Others have addressed things more eloquently than I. Have a laugh, say a prayer, take a breath, and do what you feel you need to do. :-)

  12. My MIL is very controlling and undermines our authority in front of our children, which is completely unacceptable. Luckily my in-laws live 6 hours away, so we don’t see them very often. We’ve learned that confrontation is usually more effective if my husband talks to her rather than me. (People rarely stand up to her, so this is difficult for my husband.) It’s not easy to stand your ground, especially if you are dealing with someone who is used to bulldozing everyone in her path.

    We’ve found these resources to be helpful:
    The Mother-in-Law Dance: Can Two Women Love the Same Man and Still Get Along? by Annie Chapman
    Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No-To Take Control of Your Life by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
    Grandma’s Prerogative blog post by Jill Savage –

  13. I am grateful that my inlaws respect everything regarding our children. But if I had your situation we would have to have a “come to Jesus meeting ” because having a good time with the grands,maybe getting an extra treat hear and there,granddad sliding an extra cookie..that is all good..But letting a child exhibit behavior that they would not have tolerated with their own children is unacceptable..Grands should make the child act in an appropriate manner when they are taking care of them..Because then the question becomes,What are you teaching your child,what is the message you are sending to your child?”

    There are rules and boundaries in every situation and the child needs to know and understand that the rules follow her no matter if she is home or with the grands,at the target or at church.

  14. I have the opposite issue. My step-mother is a very strict woman. My son is on the Autism Spectrum. She believes that she can still deal with him the same way that you do any child. I’ve tried to tell her that sometimes he does need to be treated differently, but she won’t listen. She has brought him to tears before and now she has offered to take both children, along with my dad, on an outing. I have found excuses to not let them take my kids alone; but I feel bad. I just don’t know how else to get through to her. She is the kind of person that once she has something in her head, she doesn’t listen to anyone else. It’s frustrating. Now, I just don’t let them be alone with my son. I still attend family events, but make sure I’m around to run interference when necessary. I’ve also gotten good at ignoring the comments they make about how I raise him.
    Heather recently posted…Theme SongsMy Profile

  15. Wow! I have been experiencing this exact thing lately. My MIL was staying with us recently and it seemed like she would undermine me at every chance. In one instance she interrupted my son and I during school and asked if she could take him outside for a second. I told her that she could as soon as we finished and she had the nerve to tell my son to “come on” and go with her. I was livid. And to make matters worse my husband witnessed the whole thing and didn’t say a word. He has no problem confronting me but he can’t ever seem to say a word to his mother.

    I don’t have a problem with grandparents “spoiling” the grand kids but when they go directly against the parents wishes, I think something needs to be said. I think it’s only respectful to honor the parents wishes. What does it say to the child if they only have to obey their parents rules when the parent is present? I expect my children to obey my rules in all circumstances.

    • I would have used as a teachable moment for my kids. If that had happened with my MIL (and believe me, VERY similar situations have occurred), I would have just ignored her completely and calmly and firmly told my child, “I said you need to finish school before you go outside. You must obey me or there will be consequences.” No, the children shouldn’t be put in this position, but it is a great time for them to learn that they are to obey their parents in ANY situation. It also tends to be (in my experience) a wake up call for the grandparent- we all know they hate to see the little angels in trouble. 😉

    • Wow, that’s a difficult situation. I have been in the same situation with my mom. She’s a person who takes confrontation very poorly. She usually rules the roost. I can attest to the fact that it gets easier. You have to put one foot in front of the other and look her in the eye and tell her no. Period. However, if it were me, I would have told her no but also shortened the day’s lesson and maybe even took a couple of days off to visit with her. Depending on how long she was staying with you that is. You are still in charge so you determine when and how you are doing what with your children. BUT you still have to honor them and show love to them. Love sometimes shows up in the form of boundaries. Lots of people need them.

      I disagree iwth ignoring her and talking to the child. I think that makes the child feel a heavy burdon that they aren’t equipped to bear. If you or your husband can’t bear the thought of confronting her then don’t make your kid do it.

      Ultimately your husband needs to lead. Pray or pray and fast for him and encourage him to seek mentorship about how to deal with his mom and man up to the reality that HE is supposed to lead your family, not you or his mother. Enough said. In my experience, they want to lead, sometimes they feel like they need encouragement and almost permission. You have to step down so he can step up sort of thing.

      • I totally DID NOT mean to “make the kid” handle any confrontation. 9.9 out of 10 grandparents will get the hint and let the matter drop to keep the child from getting into trouble. If the grandparent decides to cause a fuss, then by all means, the parent should shield their child from that (this would be the point where I would stop waiting for my husband to step in). With that being said, children MUST be taught obedience in ANY situation. It could mean their life one day! It’s much better for a 9 year old to learn obedience at the kitchen table with mom as the encourager and grandmother as the negative pressure than to wait until they’re 17 and presented with a cigarette or a beer and no one that loves them around to show them how to handle it. Start teaching them very early though, so it won’t even be an issue. If my MIL or ANYone tells my children (11, 9, 7) to do something contrary to what my husband or I have told them, they don’t make a move until they’ve gotten our permission, not because they’re scared of us but because they know that we love them and wouldn’t tell them anything wrong. That’s the key…a lot of parents teach to “obey b/c I said so,” but it doesn’t undermine your authority one little bit to tell you children why they should obey you- in general and about specific situations.

  16. Our approach was that some things (like car seats and other safety issues) were non-negotiable, but it was OK that the kids had extra cookies or stories or a later bed time at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. And now that my kids are older teens and my mom is elderly (and my dad has passed away), I’m glad we allowed those special treats. My kids have wonderful memories of being there, and that’s really important. The kids seemed to understand early on that some rules at home were void at Grandma’s, and that was OK. It never seemed to be a problem for them to come home and follow our house rules.

    We would have taken a stand if they’d been encouraging disobedience or inappropriate tv viewing or whatever, but thankfully we were on the same page on those issues.

    • I think this is a great answer! You said that much more eloquently than I did. :)

      I think you have an important perspective for us moms with young kids to remember that our parents won’t be around forever and we need to try to let some of the smaller stuff go and make positive relationships a priority.

  17. I also have the opposite problem, and with my own parents. Went to. Idiot them this summer, and they were constantly reprimanding my kids directly AFTER I had just disciplined them myself. In other words, they were undermining my authority by double disciplining my kids– they obviously felt that I wasn’t harsh enough? But we have very different views on discipline. My parents like to shame and focus on the “bad child” instead of focus on the ad behavior. They also hit to “solve the problem.” I finally had enough and left their house a day early because my mom smacked my 3 year old just after I disciplined her for hitting her brother. I was so upset, both by my mom hitting my daughter and her undermining my authority. I don’t know what to do because my parents’ treatment of my daughter actually makes her behavior worse. I want my kids to have a relationship with my parents, but my parents don’t want to “be the grandparents.” At this point, I don’t know if I want to leave my kids alone with my parents, which is a shame, because it means I can’t feel like I can meet up with old friends very easily (3 kids in tow) when I visit back home. Sorry for the rant, but if anyone has any tips. P.S. my husband is currently interviewing for a job near my parents, so things could potentially get more complicated!

  18. I believe this is an issue of integrity, depending on what types of infractions you’re talking about – it’s not clear. My kids don’t have candy at home much but I know they have it at their grandparents houses and I consider that part of the joy of being a grandparent. I don’t want to take the fun out of it for them. So within reason, they get to do things with their grandparents they don’t get to do with mom and dad as a way of honoring them and allowing them that freedom for fun. The first thing to do is be in unity with your spouse about what you want to draw the line about. If he supports you and what you want to teach your child then perhaps limiting some of the exposure with the grandparents is best. They could come to your house where there’s less temptation, etc. Shorten your dates so bedtimes aren’t an issue. YOU are in charge. God gave parents the responsibility. If your in-laws are tempted to do the wrong thing then make it easier for them to choose the right thing while honoring them at the same time. I would NOT let misbehavior slide. In my opinion, that creates a friendship with the grandparents and makes you the enemy. You have to lead in this.

  19. I would just evaluate how acceptable their grandparenting is and accept it as it is and only have the kids with them as often as won’t bring on bad habits, ruin the kid’s lives, endanger them. I can’t make my inlaws do things I want them to do but they love my kids so they get to eat stuff I won’t buy when they are with grandma, and sit on the counter and they are pretty much safe and loved but not parented “my way.” I wouldn’t give up though on important things, but I would only pick the bigger battles. They are never going to see things my way or value what I value when it comes to sleep training for example. I would treasure the fact that they are alive and in my child’s life. And then try to make the most of the good and avoid or ignore most of the bad.

Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. Any comment that espouses an anti-marriage philosophy (eg. porn, adultery, abuse and the like) will be deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are replying to another commenter, please be polite and don't assume you know everything about his or her situation. If you are constantly negative or a general troll, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Sheila Wray Gregoire owns the copyright to all comments and may publish them in whatever form she sees fit. She agrees to keep any publication of comments anonymous, even if you are not anonymous on this board.


  1. […] been talking about grandparents who don’t honour your authority with your kids. Chime in here. And over on Facebook we’ve been asking two questions: do you explode when you’re […]

Leave a Comment


CommentLuv badge