Grandparents who are Just Too Much

How can you actually have too much of a good thing? And, aren’t grandparents a truly good thing in our child’s life? For parents who have to deal with unsolicited advice, over-available grandparents, intervention and interruptions and other overly-involved grandparents, too much of a good thing can just be too much!

I do not know how many times I have listened as a parent complained about an overbearing grandparent—one who is stopping by or calling continuously or butting in and offering advice and criticism. Some grandparents even go so far as to take children out for hair cuts, buy them new wardrobes, enroll them in schools and other activities—all without the parent’s approval. For the parents, this can cause a great deal of stress and make family life horrible. Plus, an overly-involved grandparent can undermine a parent’s authority—especially if grandma or grandpa is overriding rules and expectations set by the family.

The solutions might be obvious, but easier to talk about than to actually enact: having conversations with the grandparents and setting limits, explaining parenting philosophies, setting schedules, spending limits, etc. all in an attempt to get an over-the-top grandparent under control. Sometimes these attempts work, while other times, the grandparent still does what he or she wants. I would love to hear from some of you who have actually lived with this reality and found creative ways to get a “too much” grandparent under control. What did you do? How did it affect the child? Does a “too much” grandparent ever stop on their own? Does the age of the child affect the sloppy boundaries (does a “too much” grandparent tire when the child becomes a pre-teen or teen, for example?) For those of you who have been through this or are dealing with it now—what works and what seems to only make things worse?