Why Your Children Critique Your Grandparenting and How to Handle It

December 8, 2018 Published by
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By guest contributor Barbara Boxer

My husband and I have a delicious six-year-old Granddaughter. She is the apple of our eyes.

When our little darling sleeps over, we are under strict instructions to have her in bed by 7:30 p.m. We usually manage to get her into bed close to 7:30 p.m. and she goes right to sleep.

Why is it that my daughter, her mother, invariably calls at 7:35 p.m. on the night that our granddaughter is not in bed by 7:30 p.m.?

My daughter then hears her in the background and declares, “Mother, you are off schedule!”

What’s a well-intentioned Grandmother to do?

I posed this dilemma to my good friend, Janie Orenstein, who has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. She gave me the following insight into the dynamics of this situation…

The answers to situations like the above are typically multifaceted, as are all conundrums, and can best be viewed if a Grandmother takes the time to step back and remember the feelings she had when taking care of her young children.

None of us was sure of our decisions or responses when our little ones were needy, unpredictable, unhappy, boisterous, etc. That usually left a disquiet or anxiety that was difficult to displace. Who was the one person in our lives that we could trust, usually unconsciously, to lash out on? Our mothers, of course.

Were we unreasonable?  YES! Did we make ridiculous demands on their behavior with our kids, which we never would have done with friends who might have care-taken our children for us? Yes! Were we as judgmental with our fathers who might have strayed from our expectations? Not as severely.

Relationships with Mothers allow us to regress in ways that few other environments tolerate; as much anger as Grandmothers might express over their childrens’ (usually daughters) seemingly absurd and insensitive demands, Grandmothers will still always be there for all the generations of children. It is important to remember that anxiety is the impetus for unpleasant or unreasonable behavior.  How does one respond to these frustrating and often hurtful encounters?

Here’s one way to handle the situation…

“I hear you saying that you don’t trust me and I am so sorry that is how you feel. It’s so weird for me to be having this conversation with you because it brings back memories of my mothering. I became unglued when the babysitter obviously let the kids stay up to watch the last 1/2 hour of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or my Mom gave the kids brownies before dinner.  In retrospect, I understand that your issue comes from lots of feelings most moms have felt since they cannot see the results of their labor. This creates feelings of anxiousness we might not even be aware of. But, it expresses itself most strongly with me because you know, again on some unconscious level, that I will always be there for you, so I am safe to be irritated with. That being said, it plays out with me as a control issue, verbalized by unrealistic expectations and resulting in your lack of trust in me. The end result is that neither of us feels good about each other. I guess the only logical resolution is that I have to remember where your anger at me is coming from and you have to trust that I will not destroy all that you feel you are working towards in helping Jimmy/Jenny be the best he/she can be.”

In a sense, the take away is this: I, as a Mother, taught my daughter that I am her safe haven. Kudos to me! That is a Mothering job well done.  Because of this, my child feels comfortable lashing out at me, and perhaps my child also feels comfortable expecting things of me that she would not expect of anyone else.

So, when my daughter reacts to our granddaughter still being awake at 7:35 p.m. instead of taking that reaction as mistrust, my challenge is to see the glass as half full! I can remember that to this lovely, confident capable grown woman I am still “Mommy” and I am one of the few people on the planet she can share her anxieties with, even if she doesn’t realize that’s what they are, while still knowing that I do, and always will, love her unconditionally.

And that’s the type of bond that every Mom is thankful for.

Have you run into this or similar Grandparenting challenges? Do tell! You can comment below or connect with HoneyGood.com on FacebookTwitter and even Instagram. LET’S TALK!

Barbara Boxer is Managing Director of BELLE Capital USA, an  Angel fund investing in woman owned tech businesses. Janie Orenstein has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Both women live in Los Angeles and are proud Grandmothers.

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11 Comments

  • joni says:

    Wow Honey, this is so helpful, I could just give you a hug! Last week I was helping my daughter with her 6 month old baby girl. She was under a strict plan with nap/crib training. One nap in the late morning and then another in the afternoon. This hadn’t been developed before because my daughter preferred holding her all day. I knew this wasn’t good for either of them, but I kept my mouth shut. That morning last week that sweet little baby just did not seem to want to take that morning nap. I told my daughter that often babies do give up that morning nap, as all 3 of my kids did when they were 4-6 months. My daughter then suddenly seemed furious with me, reading me the rules from some book on exact months, exact nap times, etc…Like babies can be calculated down to a book? 😉 My feelings were hurt so much, I was affected by it all day and wondered exactly what it was I was feeling, and she was feeling. This puts it into so much perspective, and really truly helps. My daughter and I are close and I did not want this to drive a wedge between us, but I felt that all my efforts raising her and all my experience was completing discounted like I was a big dummy. We sat in silence for about an hour…..as my grand daughter fell back to sleep. ha! Thank you for shedding some light on this awkward moment. I’ll know how to get over it quicker next time.

  • I would like to know if you have group meeting for those over 60? When I first read about the site I read that there were get togethers in the Chicago area. Please do let me know- that is what I am really interested in. Many thanks

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      Hi Harriet, The group meetings are going to start on my site, HoneyGood.com. Unlike Facebook MOXIE! is a private network on Honey Good where women over fifty will be able to form their own group or join a group of interest. Go to Honeygood.com and on the home page, scroll down and you will see a sign-up sheet for MOXIE!. Follow the prompts and you will be part of the online group. There are 1300 members waiting to go online. It will begin tomorrow. I would like to start offline groups in Chicago this Spring. Stay tuned but do sign up for the groups online. There will be different categories. Don’t be afraid of the Internet. There will be help at HG. Warmly, Honey

  • antonia dosik says:

    I can empathize as well; although I had the opposite problem. I was quite strict about the bedtime for my daughter (I was exhausted and needed the time), so she went to bed at 7pm as a baby. Completely the opposite with her children (twin boy/girl) who never went to bed at a regular time and were often still not asleep at 10pm. I could see that this was overwhelming for my daughter and her husband, but she never seemed to figure out how to manage bedtime. It sometimes became an issue for us, but we persevered and had many honest discussions. And like you, my proudest moments were when my daughter said “I hate you mommy.” That’s when I knew she could trust me totally.

    Someone needs to write some articles/books about this issue about grandparenting (and maybe just grand mothering). I believe I have signed up for the Moxie group; looking forward to it.

  • Leah Olson says:

    Honey, any advice for grandmothers to help with relationships with daughter in laws? I just received a text from my son’s wife. I cleaned my 7 and 5 y/o ‘s ears with a q tip and she advised me the pediatrition recommendations not to use q tip. Lol! It seems like every time I watch the kids, I get a text about what I did wrong.

    • Jo Ann says:

      Well DIL is marking her territory and making sure that you play by her rules. I am on the receiving end of this from my SIL and I don’t like it either. He has taken some child development classes (years ago) and I guess read a book or two, and he is an expert parent now with his 1 month old. So I just do not react, or let him see me roll my eyes, and do what I want to do anyway. There are things that he told me that “the experts” say not to do, and then later tells me what he did, and it’s the very thing he told me NOT to do!!??? Whatever. Let it go, this too shall pass. Pretty soon they will be calling me and looking for a weekend babysitter and I will be there and we will jump on beds and play in mud puddles, let dogs lick our faces and eat donuts for breakfast. 🙂

      • Susan "Honey" Good says:

        You are one smart cookie!!!! And you will be one loved grandmother. Whatever is right. I am smiling. Happy holidays. Warmly, Honey

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      Just LOL Maybe you should be busy once in a while when she needs you. I wonder if she will LOL’s. Merry Christmas and Happy New year. Warmly, Honey

  • Judith Liebaert says:

    I sincerely doubt most grandmothers would get the first two sentences out before their daughter stopped listening. As a mother of three daughters and grandmother of seven children, I have to say the pendulum swings both ways and I think we are going too far in the direction of not making waves.
    Time with grandparents is special and if bedtime comes 5, or 10 or 30 minutes late, it’s not the end of the world. Neither is whether they eat all their lima bean, or if they don’t finish their dinner and still get dessert. That’s what I’d tell my daughters if they were worrying about it.
    I’m grateful they aren’t obsessing about every detail when their children are with me—they are happy for the break and thrilled that I’m eager to occupy their children, whether for an hour or for an overnight visit.
    I’m not saying there shouldn’t be mutual respect, but I think everybody needs to lighten up a little.

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