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Grandparenting

Do I approach my son and DIL about their lifestyle and parenting issues?

(87 Posts)
utopiarun Mon 26-Sep-22 18:10:04

Hi, I am a 61 year old grampa with a wonderful 4 year old gs. GS has been acting out a lot lately, very cranky, having bathroom accidents and can be very nasty to my wife (not his natural grandma) and grampa has to do everything. This upsets my wife a lot as she acts like a grandmother to him. We watched him over the weekend and it was tough. My wife had a stern talk with me over all the things she thinks are wrong in his life. Namely his parents. His mother likes to go out to concerts (she's a bit of a free spirit) and both my son and DIL like to go out, which means we may have to watch him once every two weeks, sometimes overnight. They have a lot of cats and sometimes the house can be smelly and they have liquor bottles in plain site although I don't sense they have a problem. Most of the food they give him is processed, chicken nuggets, french toast sticks, etc. They have very demanding jobs, she is a nurse and my son works very long hours at his job, so much of the time only one parent is home and I don't think they eat together at the same table. I really don't sense the child is in danger and he is extremely bright, and most of the time has a good attitude, does well in school and loves to run around. My wife says that they don't put him first and that I and my ex-wife (loving grandma who also has issues with my son and DIL) should talk to them. I am hesitant as I am afraid to cause a rift and I would help my kids out any way I can. My wife has worked in education for many years and says she has seen these signs before and it can be dangerous. I think he rebellious behavior is not unusual for a 4 year old who knows how to test us and we need to be strong and consistent. His parents are aware of his outbursts as he can act out to them as well. They give him a time-out when it's warranted. The question (sorry this is so long) is do we confront my son and DIL about their lifestyle or just bite the bullet and enjoy the time we have with our grandson?

utopiarun Mon 26-Sep-22 18:10:36

Hi, I am a 61 year old grampa with a wonderful 4 year old gs. GS has been acting out a lot lately, very cranky, having bathroom accidents and can be very nasty to my wife (not his natural grandma) and grampa has to do everything. This upsets my wife a lot as she acts like a grandmother to him. We watched him over the weekend and it was tough. My wife had a stern talk with me over all the things she thinks are wrong in his life. Namely his parents. His mother likes to go out to concerts (she's a bit of a free spirit) and both my son and DIL like to go out, which means we may have to watch him once every two weeks, sometimes overnight. They have a lot of cats and sometimes the house can be smelly and they have liquor bottles in plain site although I don't sense they have a problem. Most of the food they give him is processed, chicken nuggets, french toast sticks, etc. They have very demanding jobs, she is a nurse and my son works very long hours at his job, so much of the time only one parent is home and I don't think they eat together at the same table. I really don't sense the child is in danger and he is extremely bright, and most of the time has a good attitude, does well in school and loves to run around. My wife says that they don't put him first and that I and my ex-wife (loving grandma who also has issues with my son and DIL) should talk to them. I am hesitant as I am afraid to cause a rift and I would help my kids out any way I can. My wife has worked in education for many years and says she has seen these signs before and it can be dangerous. I think he rebellious behavior is not unusual for a 4 year old who knows how to test us and we need to be strong and consistent. His parents are aware of his outbursts as he can act out to them as well. They give him a time-out when it's warranted. The question (sorry this is so long) is do we confront my son and DIL about their lifestyle or just bite the bullet and enjoy the time we have with

Kate54 Mon 26-Sep-22 18:13:42

And the answer is no (unless things change and you believe the child is actually in danger).

Oldnproud Mon 26-Sep-22 18:17:11

The last thing you said: enjoy the time you have with DGS.

None of the things you have mentioned sound like things that the parents are likely to start doing differently just because you and your wife think they should.

FarNorth Mon 26-Sep-22 18:20:38

If your DD and DDiL want to discuss their child's behaviour with you, you could perhaps make a tactful comment if you believe you have an idea that could help.

Don't criticise their lifestyle, tho, and make sure to give your DGS healthy food when he is with you.

Hithere Mon 26-Sep-22 18:21:26

No, leave it alone

ElaineI Mon 26-Sep-22 18:26:33

Absolutely not! Normal sounding 4 year old with a normal 4 year old's diet - probably has much more than you think. Normal 4 year old attitude to grandparents (my 2 youngest 4&5 want Papa to do everything). Normal for 4 year olds to have toilet accidents. Your wife is in danger of you both being estranged if you have this attitude!

CanadianGran Mon 26-Sep-22 18:27:27

You can hint that children benefit from routine and healthy eating, but ultimately they will raise their child in their own way.

You will find that the little one will fall into the routine and discipline at your house when he is there, and be happy for it.

Wyllow3 Mon 26-Sep-22 18:28:57

No, utopiarun, that way is to alienate both of you as they will react in a hostile way and you might be shut out.

The way you personally propose, carrying on being a great grandad, is the way to go unless your grandchild is in danger.

Your wife and ex wife have to let go. Yes, easier said than done.

I know that my DiL is a lot closer to her mum and will always be, and thats really quite normal, and I don't agree with some stuff, and DiL will never be really close to me, and I accept their way. And thats not always easy, I wish she'd be closer to me like her mum, but thats unrealistic except in a small number of cases. So it's not easy for your wife and Ex.

My son would always take his wife's side. Remember that, and enjoy the little lad as best you can.

JaneJudge Mon 26-Sep-22 18:31:09

ime children generally 'play up' around those they trust and know will care for them smile and I agree with everyone else

Skydancer Mon 26-Sep-22 18:39:54

You sound like a wonderful caring Granddad. No don’t say anything as people don’t change. Just give the little boy healthy meals and lots of love and all should be well.

Harris27 Mon 26-Sep-22 18:40:46

I’m in childcare and a gran to four. No it’s their child don’t interfere!

Wyllow3 Mon 26-Sep-22 18:43:56

I've watched very carefully the way DS and DiL set boundaries and follow the way. That doesn't mean to say I let him get away with deliberate testing behaviour to me but they will never be that delightful quixotic age again.

crazyH Mon 26-Sep-22 19:05:31

Lovely age….4. One of mine has just turned 4. Just enjoy the time you spend with him. Don’t worry about how his parents are bringing him up, as long as he is not exposed to danger. His outbursts are just a child being a child. Just give him lots of love, but don’t interfere. They thrive on love. Good luck

Devorgilla Mon 26-Sep-22 19:32:55

I wouldn't raise how they rear him. He sounds like he is thriving and happy and that's good. My only concern would be the 'bathroom' incidents as that could indicate a bladder infection etc. Worth perhaps asking, if very frequent, if they think he has an infection.

Daisymae Mon 26-Sep-22 19:44:31

I certainly would not say anything. It would probably cause a rift and at the end of the day are they going to change because you think it's a good idea? Or as they may see it, don't approve of their choices? I have no doubt that your wife is right, that they do not put his needs first. In your circumstances I would ensure that he had fresh fruit and veg when in my care but there's really nothing you can do to change their lifestyles. The best bit of advice I would say is to take note when he's doing something that you approve of so that type of behaviour is encouraged. He's lucky to have such caring grandparents.

BlueBelle Mon 26-Sep-22 19:53:58

No no no no it all sounds perfectly normal for a four year old finding his feet
My sons friend ate nothing but fish fingers for as long as I knew him he d have them any and every meal he’s a strong 50 year old now and I m sure he eats a balanced diet
One of my grandkids drank loads of milk but did nt like eating much, a few peas a bit of cereal but again a normal young man now
As long as he’s loved and sounds as if he is leave well alone and tell you wife in the kindest possible way she needs to keep her opinions well and truly in her head
Love laugh and carry on as you are

Madgran77 Mon 26-Sep-22 20:53:06

No if child is not in danger, just leave it. And your wife getting upset about a 4 year old's preferences for Grandpa ...as your wife has been involved in education for many years she should know better! He is 4 years old!!!

Loulelady Mon 26-Sep-22 21:22:27

I agree with the previous posters and would also add that 4 years old is a prime age for becoming aware of sex difference and identifying strongly with being a boy or a girl. A friend's son is at this stage and after four years of being all about mummy and them having the closest relationship, she is having to mask her occasional sadness about their son being all about daddy. Even talking about films or toys he will ask "Is that a boy film or a girl film?" - before committing an opinion. He certainly hasn't been brought up in such a rigidly gendered environment so it's just a stage. I wonder if your wife feels a little rejected and that is colouring the degree of censure she feels and is expressing to you.

Wyllow3 Mon 26-Sep-22 22:03:42

Loulelady very perceptive imo. It does hurt when it's a single child not with sibs to "share out".

utopiarun Tue 27-Sep-22 01:35:11

Thank you all for your responses. I read it to my wife and she thought I didn’t present the information as urgently as she sees it. At her request I called my ex wife and she also thinks we should talk to them about their behavior. I don’t want to get into a rift with my wife she has worked in education more than 30 years and feels something has to be done now.

Hithere Tue 27-Sep-22 01:49:21

Your wife's educational credentials mean nothing - it is not relevant whatsoever

This is unsolicited advice that is judging the parents of the child according to your standards

If child is happy and healthy- leave it alone or you may come to the board with "my son and dil are using my gc as a pawn and we cannot see him" (sarcasm intended)

3dognight Tue 27-Sep-22 02:17:39

I agree with others.
You must keep it zipped for everyone’s sake. There would be a very bad atmosphere after raising the subject, and then what? It’s their child, whatever your wife’s credentials are.

Grams2five Tue 27-Sep-22 04:55:05

Hithere

Your wife's educational credentials mean nothing - it is not relevant whatsoever

This is unsolicited advice that is judging the parents of the child according to your standards

If child is happy and healthy- leave it alone or you may come to the board with "my son and dil are using my gc as a pawn and we cannot see him" (sarcasm intended)

I agree - if I were you I would fully expect to see grandchild
Less often - at least for the short term. Tell
Your wife to mind her lane - he’s not her child or her grandchild and it’s not her concern.

SunshineSally Tue 27-Sep-22 05:19:04

Please heed the advice of those on here and don’t criticise their parenting style. Constructive advice if fine - but only if asked for.

Enjoy the time you have with your GS - he sounds a normal little boy. Yes they test boundaries - but just be firm when he’s at your home. I have 3 GC aged 8, 5 and 2 and they are all different but I am firm - my house, my rules. I would never criticise my ACs parenting style (but might think it in my head and chat with partner ?- but that would be as far as it goes) unless they asked my opinion and/or were seeking advice.
Be careful - you risk losing all contact if you interfere. You’ve already inferred they have stressful jobs, don’t make the situation worse - and you will if you go down that path.

Unless your GS is in danger i.e from abuse then keep it zipped or interfere at your peril!