We're all familiar with the cliché “You can't pick your family,” but it's a cliché for a reason. For better or worse, we find ourselves members of a particular family and we are left with the responsibility of developing and maintaining our relationships. Dealing with grandparents—whether they are our own grandparents or our parents who are grandparents to our children—can present unique challenges, but the potential rewards of a solid and loving relationship are well worth the trouble of getting over roadblocks. In what follows, we offer advice on how grandchildren can better handle the annoyances of their grandparents, and also on how new parents can navigate the waters of parenting under the watchful eye of their own parents.
Method 1 of 2:
Coping with your Annoying Grandparents
1Figure out what you mean by “annoying”. Before tackling any problem, we need to be able to identify the real source of our frustration. It's easy enough to huff that our grandparents are so annoying, but what is it really about their behavior that bothers us so much?
- Complaining to your grandparents (or to anyone who will listen) that they are annoying won't fix anything. Try to be specific as you identify the problem to yourself: “It bothers me when Grandma treats me like I'm five when I visit and won't let me watch “The Walking Dead,” even though I'm twenty-five”.
- Before deciding how you'll deal with the situation and potentially confront your grandparents, spend some time reflecting and writing down your issues for yourself.
2Consider your grandparents' perspective. When dealing with any sort of interpersonal conflict, it's important to try to sympathetically identify with the other person. This means that you need to try to put yourself in their shoes and attempt to understand their perspective.
- Try to figure out why your grandparents are acting as they do. You may eventually need to have a direct conversation with your grandparents in which you air your grievances, but you'll be better prepared for this if you first make some educated guesses on your own.
- Grandma may not let you watch your favorite program when you're staying with her over winter break, but do you think that may be because she herself finds the program too gruesome?
- Is it possible that your grandparents are trying to monitor what you watch because they still think of you as their innocent five-year-old and are merely nostalgic?
- You may be annoyed that Grandma and Grandpa call you every other day, but is it possible that they just miss being able to see and talk to you more regularly?
3Learn more about your grandparents. You have your own unique relationship with your grandparents, but you may not know much about them outside of this context. Assuming that your grandparents are willing to share, learning as much about them as possible will help you begin to understand them as individuals and may help you identify ways to begin to improve your relationship.
- Before you begin to deal with your specific problem (your frustration with your grandparents' over-involvement or absence in your life, for example), talk to your grandparents about their own lives and relationships with their grandparents.
- Ask your grandparents very specific questions: “How often did you see your grandparents?” “Were your grandparents strict with you or indulgent?” “What do you wish you had been able to do with them while you had time together?”
- It may also help to learn more about the differences between generations. If your grandparents grew up during the Great Depression or the Civil Rights Movement, for example, learning this will give you important insight into their outlook on life.
4Find common ground with your grandparents. As you move forward with improving your relationship, it will help to be able to keep in mind your shared traits and values.
- Do you share your grandfather's wacky sense of humor? Keeping this in mind will help you as you decide when and how to confront your grandfather about the particular thing that is bothering you. If grandpa responds well to humor, then approaching the topic with a joke could work well.
- Think as well about what you are thankful for in your relationship with your grandparents: have they always been there for you? Are you able to call them at midnight when you have a flat tire? If loyalty is deeply important to them (and you), recognizing this may help you understand the source of some of their more annoying habits or may help you look past them.
5Assess your own role in the conflict. It's pretty rare for a problem to be only one-sided, so it's important for you to honestly reflect upon yourself to identify any ways in which you may have been contributing to the situation.
- For example, is it possible that while you are currently annoyed with your grandparents for not treating you like an adult and allowing you to come in late at night, you are at other times letting them wait on you hand-and-foot as they did when you were younger? If so, be aware of the mixed message you are sending them.
- Is it possible that you are transferring—responding negatively to your own traits that you don't like as you see them exhibited in your grandparents? If so, it's hardly fair to criticize them for never returning phone calls, for example, when you yourself have a spotty track record at this.
- Are you impatient or hostile when dealing with your grandparents? You may think that you are successfully hiding your annoyance, but keep in mind that our body language, facial expressions, and tone can speak volumes.
- Your grandparents also quite likely know you very well and are thus probably already aware of your frustration. This could very well be contributing to the tension.
6Decide what you can put up with and what you can't. Remember that not every battle needs to be fought, and indeed, picking every battle will only increase overall tension and frustration.
- Especially if you don't see your grandparents all that regularly, adapting your schedule and habits to keep the peace most likely shouldn't require too much effort.
- You may have been waiting all week to get caught up on your favorite program, but is it really worth fighting over if you can DVR it or watch it later on your phone or laptop?
- On the other hand, while you may decide that you can live with your grandparents' obvious distaste for your fashion style, you may not be able to (or want to) put up with their insults or hostility to your romantic partner.
- The main point here is to decide what's important to you, both in terms of your own life and in terms of preserving your relationship with your grandparents.
7Talk things over your grandparents. Once you've done your best to try to understand where your grandparents are coming from, find common ground, and figure out your own role in the situation, it's time for you to talk to them.  X Research source
- Make sure that you choose an appropriate time and place to talk to your grandparents. If they turn in early, then deciding to talk to them about what you take to be their condescending attitude towards your career choice right before their bedtime will most likely not go well.
- Try not to be accusatory in your language. Even though you find them annoying, don't start off by saying, “Grandma, you are so annoying when you constantly push more food at me.”
- Instead, try framing your grievance with “I” language: “Grandma, I love that you cook me such tasty meals when I visit, but I sometimes feel pressured to overeat, which I find frustrating”.
- Notice as well that when you talk with your grandparents it will help to frame the discussion in terms of what you appreciate about them, in spite of your need to address a problem.
- You may also want to try reflecting your grandparents' questions or comments back to them. If you are bothered by their constant queries about your dating life, the next time they ask, try responding, “Why do you ask?”. Their answer may surprise you, or they may realize that that they've been over-asking.
8Consult your parents. While it's probably best that you try to handle your problems yourself, depending upon the severity of the problem or your comfort level with your grandparents, you may decide to enlist the help of your parents.
- Whether your parents have a close or strained relationship with their parents, they should be in a position to give you good insight. They can either provide you with advice about how to approach your grandparents or if necessary, discuss things over with them on your behalf.
- If you do decide to vent to your parents or have them talk things over with your grandparents, be careful not to place them in too awkward of a position.
- If your only issue is that your grandparents are annoying (and not malicious or abusive), then this is something that a mature individual should be able to handle independently. One of your parents' most important roles is to protect you, but not necessarily from life's everyday annoyances.
- Of course, if your grandparents are abusive, things change entirely. There is no rule that we must retain contact with people who are toxic or harmful, even if they are family.
Method 2 of 2:
Coping with the Grandparents of your Children
1Assess the situation carefully. If you are a new parent, your life has suddenly changed drastically, and you're still learning to juggle all the different aspects and demands of your life. Keep in mind that your children's grandparents are also adjusting to the new addition(s) to the family.
- Before you angrily confront your children's grandparents about their behavior, try to determine whether or not you are still all in the midst of an adjustment period. Do you think that with time and patience the current discord will resolve itself?
- If you'd rather nip things in the bud—you just can't handle the frequent, unannounced drop-ins, for example—make a list to yourself of the specific behaviors that troubling you.
2Consider the grandparents' perspective. If you happened to have read the first method on coping with your own annoying grandparents, you'll notice that many of the steps here parallel those above. Even though your relationship with your children's grandparents is of course different in many ways from that of a grandchild-grandparent relationship, there are still commonalities. We're dealing with interpersonal familial relationships, and any time we face conflict, it helps if we first attempt to consider the other person's perspective.
- It's quite likely that you or your partner will need to have a direct conversation with your children's grandparents, but thinking about why they are acting as they are will help better prepare you for that talk.
- For example, you may be annoyed with your mother's constant inquiries into your newborn's feeding schedule (which you may take as thinly disguised criticism), but is it possible that she may be anxious on your behalf because of the difficulties she had when you were a baby?
- Similarly, you may be entirely frustrated at the unannounced pop-ins, but your perspective on the situation may change once you realize that you haven't been so great at extending invitations to your children's grandparents to visit. Most likely, the grandparents are simply overly eager to spend time with their beloved grandchildren.
3Try to be charitable in your interpretations. This step naturally follows from the previous: you are doing your best to consider the grandparent's perspective; very little good will come from automatically assuming the worst about their motivations.  X Research source
- You may think that your mother-in-law has been waiting for a chance to paint you as a failure, which explains in your eyes why she is forever bringing over food (does she think you are incapable of feeding your own family?), but don't dismiss the possibility that she is merely trying to ease your burden.
- Perhaps your parents have barely called or visited since you've brought your newborn home, which leads you to believe that they aren't interested in their new grandchild. While this is a possibility, start from a charitable position and consider the possibility that they are trying to give you your space. It's quite possible that they are anxiously awaiting your first move.
4Learn more about your children's grandparents. You have your own unique relationship with your children's grandparents, but you may not know know as much about their experiences with their parents or in-laws. Their behavior now is surely informed by their own experiences as parents, and they thus may have different expectations about how much or little to be involved with your children.
- Ask your children's grandparents specific questions about their early relationships with their parents or in-laws: “Mom, how often did Grandma visit when I was a baby? Did you ask her for lots of advice?”
- Similarly, ask your children's grandparents specific questions about their experiences raising children: “Mary, was John fussy as a baby? How did you deal with that?”
- Learning as much as possible about your children's grandparents will help you begin to understand them as individuals and may help you identify ways to begin to improve your relationship.
5Learn about any generational differences in raising children. It's hard enough for you to sort through the conflicting and ever-changing advice on how to best care for and raise your children. Learning about how standards have changed (sometimes drastically) over the years will help you understand where your children's grandparents are coming from.
- You may be thoroughly frustrated at your mother-in-law's constant nagging about introducing rice cereal into your weeks-old-newborn's diet, but once you learn that her pediatrician recommended this, it will make her current behavior more understandable.
- Similarly, much less was known about SIDS, for example, even a generation ago, and it wasn't so long ago that parents were warned against placing babies on their backs to sleep. While this is certainly not a point you want to give in on, understanding that your children's grandparents were given different instructions will help you as you decide how to talk with them and make clear your expectations.  X Research source
6Enlist the help of your children's grandparents. Rather than pushing the grandparents out completely or setting down an absolute, inflexible set of rules, find areas in which you can seek their advice and make them feel involved.  X Research source
- You may have good reason to want to keep your young children on a set sleep schedule, but take note of Grandma Kayoko's baby-whispering skills: If she's able to lull any baby to sleep in minutes, ask her for a tutorial. When the baby sleeps over at her house, you can then ask Grandma to be prepared to rock baby to sleep at precisely 7pm.
7Decide what you can and cannot put up with. It's important that you remain as flexible as possible as you deal with your children's grandparents. There are of course going to be some issues, particularly those concerning safety, which you want to be firm on, but try to determine which behaviors on the grandparent's part are mere annoyances.  X Research source  X Research source
- For example, while it's important that your child have a nutritious and balanced diet, a couple of extra treats when Grandpa visits will not undo all of your hard work.
- On the other hand, if you can't trust that Grandpa will put the baby down on her back without pillows and stuffed animals in the crib, you aren't going to be able to let him babysit at nap or bedtime.  X Research source
8Be clear in your expectations. It's important that you not expect your children's grandparents to be able to read your mind and automatically know what you want from them.
- You've worked carefully to create a routine and set of rules that work best for your children after doing tons of research and consulting with their pediatrician. When your children are going to be under their watch, make sure that you are clear and specific in your expectations.
- Similarly, while you may want your children's grandparents to be a regular part of their life, you may not have anticipated that they'd be visiting every other day. If you want them to scale back their visits, be clear: “Mom and Dad, we love having you over, but weekdays are a bit crazy. Could we all get together on Saturday or Sunday this week?”  X Research source
9Remember your first role to your children. First and foremost, you are your children's protector. If at any time you feel that your children are harmed as a result of their interactions with anyone, to include their grandparents, you must take steps to protect your children.
- There is no rule that we must retain ties with abusive people just because they are blood.
- Nonetheless, the relationship between grandparent and grandchild is potentially one of truly great reward and love.
- It is also your job to try to surround your children with people who will love and protect them; improving your own relationship with their grandparents will only help to foster the bonds between grandparents and grandchildren.
QuestionMy grandparents always compare me to my other cousins, saying these cousins are always better or picking on my flaws. How can I stop them from doing this?Community AnswerYou can make sure they know how it makes you feel, for starters. Once you've done that, if the comparisons continue, you may have to develop a thick skin and make a decision that you're not going to let it bother you. Make a list of the things you do well and your good characteristics, and look at that list when your grandparents' comments are getting you down. Remember, nobody can make you feel inferior without your own consent!
QuestionHow do I deal with a grandma who treats me like a five year old?Community AnswerRemind her how old you are and how she is treating you. You could explain why these behaviors bother you and what you would prefer her to do instead. If any of her behaviors get out of hand, you could try talking to your parents to see if they could intervene.
QuestionHow do I cope with a forgetful grandparent?Community AnswerJust politely remind her of things if she seems confused. Do not be mean or aggressive or get frustrated as it is not deliberate. Old people have the tendency to forget as they have a lifetime of memories to remember.
QuestionI really don't like my grandma. She causes a lot of drama and is mean to my mom. What can I do?Community AnswerI have the same situation. Talk to her about your mom's good qualities. Her perspective may change. You might also suggest to your mom that she stand up for herself. Other than that, there's not much you can do. Stay out of the drama and be respectful and polite when you must interact with your grandma.
QuestionHow do I deal with abusive grandparents?Community AnswerIf they are physically abusive, tell another adult you trust, a friend, family member, or go directly to the police. If it is verbal abuse, you could try talking to them about it, telling them how bad their comments make you feel, etc. or, again, tell another adult what's going on. The worst thing you could do is keep it to yourself because it will probably just get worse.
QuestionWhy won't my grandma stop talking to me?Community AnswerSometimes older people can get lonely, even if they do have a spouse or pets. Take this into account, be understanding, and be fully present when she is talking to you. You might also consult your parents for ideas, suggestions, and insights.
QuestionMy grandma keeps yelling at me when I'm doing nothing wrong. What do I do?Community AnswerJust calmly look at her to let her know you are paying attention and keep all your answers short and agreeable to end the conversation faster. Works for me. If it gets bad, tell your parents.
QuestionHow do I stop them from being so rude?Community AnswerWhenever they ask you something, avoid the details and say, "Fine"; that way, you avoid more conversation. Of course, if you're forced to see them, you could tell them you don't like how they act, and walk away.
QuestionWhat if my grandparent has dementia and forgets what I tell her?Community AnswerJust politely remind her of things if she seems confused. Do not be mean or aggressive or get frustrated as it is not deliberate.
QuestionHow do I stop my Grandmother from cleaning my house?Community AnswerClean it before she gets there.
How do I get my grandparents to listen? How do I stop them from being nosy?
What do I do if my grandparent is too overprotective?
How can I stop my grandparent from saying bad words to my cousin?
What do I do if my grandparent is treating me like their child?
How do I stop my grandparent from interfering with my life?
- ↑ http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/families/talk_to_parents.html?tracking=T_RelatedArticle
- ↑ http://www.parents.com/parenting/dynamics/grandparents/how-to-deal-with-your-pushy-parents/
- ↑ http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/sleep/sids.html
- ↑ http://www.parents.com/parenting/dynamics/grandparents/how-to-deal-with-your-pushy-parents/#page=6
- ↑ http://www.education.com/magazine/article/setting-boundaries-grandparents/
- ↑ http://www.parents.com/parenting/dynamics/grandparents/how-to-deal-with-your-pushy-parents/#page=5
- ↑ http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/sleep/sids.html
- ↑ http://www.education.com/magazine/article/setting-boundaries-grandparents/
About This Article
Having annoying grandparents can be a drag, but if you stay calm and bring up your issues politely, you should cope better. It can be frustrating if your grandparents treat you like a little kid or don’t let you do things you enjoy, but think about what’s worth trying to change. For instance, if they don’t let you watch your favorite TV show, you can always watch it when you get home. If your grandparents do something that really bothers you, try calmly talking to them about it. If they don’t listen to you, try to ignore it for now and talk to your parents about it when you see them. For more tips, including how to deal with your kids’ annoying grandparents, read on!