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Parents vs. Grandparents – The “No” Conflict

It’s a grandparents “rite of passage:” spoil the grandkids, then send them home.  I’m convinced that they hand out a manual or have a secret meeting room at the hospital. They pull in all the newly anointed ”grands” to discuss the absence of rules. The new “status quo” is not “No.” From the moment of the first-born grandchild, the parents you knew as authoritarians for most of your life, snap. Gone.

First, to all the grandparents out there, I get it.  You want their love and complete admiration. You don’t want to break their little hearts.  I mean look at that precious face.  Anyway aren’t grandparent’s jobs to spoil their grandkids?  The clichés are many and can go on and on for days….I loved all my grandparents.  I spent a great part of my childhood with them while my mother worked long, hard hours as a single parent.  Being an only child, I’m sure they spoiled me.  Some. 

I’ve also heard from my mom tribe that there seems to be varying degrees of this particular “grand”  creature.  They can scale from the “over-the-top-granny” bringing the life-sized bear into the delivery room to the ones who “facetime” a few days after the delivery to get the official name and gender of “the child.”

My mom falls somewhere in the nice comfy middle of this range.  She lets them eat ice cream after most meals. Naps aren’t set in stone.  She has camp-outs and movie nights in the living room without regards to a set bedtime. But she follows our lead on limiting digital time and the “homework is always first” rule.  They claim to voluntarily brush and bathe under her care as well.  As a matter of fact, she usually calls me about purchases, like birthday gifts they’ve picked out, before she makes them.  But this time.  This time, God love her, she dropped the ball. 

Folks, I give you the “Kleenex Couch.”


My brave, well intentioned mother, took my 2 youngest angels to a craft fair.  They strolled and shopped from various local vendors for “Shop Small Saturday.” It was all good.  Until my son sees this Cardinals Kleenex Couch.  In case you don’t understand…’s a Kleenex box cover, upholstered, and made to look like a miniature couch.  UmmmKay? Why?  Why,  would one need this?  No offence to the Kleenex couch collectors in our audience and mad props to the entrepreneur who straight up sells these handmade crafts for $20 a pop.  You go girl! It's just not an item in our budget right now.

Y’all. He is in LOVE and wants it badly.  Now, MY “mom” reaction would have been, “No”.  Then, as he persisted, it would have been “No,” “No,” and again, “NO!”  Strong-willed doesn’t describe him adequately enough, and I know exactly how it would have gone down.  He would have argued his point. He would have pouted and argued some more. There would be tears and a super-sad-feelings-hurt face.  I have been in the trenches of this want battle before.  But I can stand my ground like General Custer.  My mom, not so much.  Did I mention that this item from the church craft fair was $20.00? 

Again, a Kleenex couch for $20.00.

In a time where we are trying to teach practicality and the importance and value of money, spending $20 on a Kleenex couch is a dreadful setback.  My husband and I are trying to condition our children to keep gift/toy requests for either Santa or their birthday.  Special gifts or surprises will be considered for good performance in school or if they show outstanding behavior.  When we’re walking through a store or visiting a special event like a live performance or play, they know to not point and beg for every light up sword or blinking glow-in-the-dark necklace. This is, of course, after several years of working with them on this behavior.  We just don’t throw money around on trinkets and cheap toys on a whim.

I tell you this story so that hopefully all the “grands” out there can mentally reference it in future instances where a questionable grandchild purchase request might come up.  You can say “No.” To grandparents everywhere, if you hear nothing else today, hear me give you permission to say “No” to your grandchildren.  “No” is acceptable as an answer to a grandchild.  Blame it on mommy.  Throw me under the bus.  They will completely believe it when you say to them, “Would your mother buy this for you?”  If they hesitate AT ALL to this question, the correct answer would be “No.”

As the respected 40th president of our United States, Ronald Reagan said:  “Just Say No.”


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