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Grand gestures: Do grandparents make parenting difficult?

Parenting is difficult as it stands, and moms and dads tend to look for support where they can, whether that is from one another or friends, family and perhaps even a co worker or two, even if it is just advice, all the way up to baby sitting.
What tends to frustrate parents is when they begin to set expectations and put forth the authority that they deem necessary, only to have someone undermine that ruling. Typically, you don't see that from the likes of friends or co workers, as they'll essentially tow the line for you if they've been asked to watch your kids.
But the one variable that tends to challenge parents more so than the kids themselves are the grandparents, most notably when you've asked them specifically to not do something yet they do it anyway.
Some argue that it is just the way grandparents are; they'll be told not to give kids ice cream before bed or allow them to stay up past a certain point, and they do it anyway. As a child, you look at grandparents and staying with them as more of a mini vacation where you can eat what you want, stay out longer and have more liberties than you would with mom and dad.
That mentality is faltering lately as parents are now expecting their grandparents to add continuity to what they've already started, and refrain from altering how discipline and rules are being administered.

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Does that mean grandparents aren't going to sneak in a few liberties here and there? No, of course not especially when it is something small or inconsequential, but the larger scale issues tend to be more of a point of contention.
In addition, grandparents may find themselves as untouchable and take the sort of liberties that parents scoff at or get out and out angry about when its done. Have you ever had a grandparent take your kid for a haircut or shopping spree without running it past you first? That happens and infuriates parents not so much because the gesture isn't mean to be hurtful but rather overstepping bounds of common sense and knowing that parents want to be part of those events. The shopping could come at the most inopportune time, too, such as a slew of presents before their birthday or the holidays, for instance.
Of course, and speaking of shopping, grandparents believe they also have the right of way to buy kids epic amounts of gifts for no reason and while that is acceptable from time to time, it sends the wrong message to kids that they can get what they want, when they want and they may start expecting it all the time even when they're not with their grandparents.
This isn't to suggest grandparents have to be stern, mean or run a super tight ship. They're meant to spoil the kids but to a degree that is deemed within reason.

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