Report roundup: Trying to keep the peace when parents and grandparents disagree

Grandparents play a special role in the lives of many children. But sometimes grandparents have different ideas than the child’s parents about the best way to raise the child. Our August Mott Poll report asked parents about disagreements with grandparents around their parenting choices. People across the country have been discussing the impact of these disagreements on the children, as well as ways to bridge the divide that often occurs as a result of family conflict. Here’s a roundup of the conversation.

Intergenerational conflict

Forty-six percent of parents in the Mott Poll said disagreements occur because grandparents are either too soft or too tough on the children. HealthDay reporter Steven Reinberg discussed how these conflicts may arise from generational differences. “Parents may feel that their parental authority is undermined when grandparents are too lenient in allowing children to do things that are against family rules, or when grandparents are too strict in forbidding children to do things that parents have okayed,” said Mott Poll co-director Sarah Clark. She noted that sometimes these conflicts may arise from grandparents feeling that it’s, “the way we used to do things.”

Agree to disagree?

Four in ten parents in the Mott Poll have asked a grandparent to change their behavior to be consistent with the parent’s choices or rules. When grandparents refused to comply, parents were more likely to limit the amount of time their child sees their grandparents. An article from Metro Parent detailed the difficulty these disagreements can pose for the child. “These findings indicate that grandparents should strive to understand and comply with parent requests to be more consistent with parenting choices,” Clark said, “not only to support parents in the difficult job of raising children, but to avoid escalating the conflict to the point that they risk losing special time with grandchildren.”

Tips to keep the peace

In an interview with CNN, Sarah Clark offered some tips and suggestions for families that are struggling with conflicts between parents and grandparents. Clark suggests to determine which rules are flexible, and which are deal-breakers. For the set-in-stone rules, “try to get the grandparents to understand (why) these are things we really have to do.” Setting boundaries for certain things is also important, especially around the parent’s preferences for social media sharing. “Grandparents may not appreciate the privacy considerations that often inform decisions about what and where to post…and should talk with parents about their views on including children in social media posts,” she said. Finally, try to approach the situation with understanding. “It’s easy to fall back on your old habits, particularly when it’s things with kids where you’re not really even conscious of what you’re doing.”

For more coverage of our August report, check out these articles from Michigan Health, UPI, WWJ News Radio, Futurity, The Bump, and Consumer Affairs.