I don't know what to do about my parents

I am an only child. My parents were sort of strict and weird. Not in any outstanding way. Just that anyone who hears details of my childhood thinks that I missed out on a lot.

Now I have a four year old daughter. We live across the country from my parents. They are currently visiting for Christmas–day 2 of a 7 day visit.

And my mother has gone off on my small daughter, because my small daughter was hyped up at bedtime and dancing instead of putting on her pajamas.

My small daughter is now crying herself to sleep, and asked if grandma was going to take away all her Christmas presents.

Mama Bear (me) is angry as hell. I want to tell my mother to apologize. I want to ask her how old she is that she makes her four-year-old granddaughter cry at Christmas. I want to ask her what kind of entitlement complex she has. I frankly want to indulge my daughter when she asks that grandma never visit again.

It happens on every visit. My father is this way, too. Whenever my daughter gets too excited he will throw a micro-fit and walk off the scene.

It’s funny. Because they have such poor self-control, I developed almost unearthly self-control. I couldn’t lose it around them, ever, because they would instantly lose it in a much bigger and more frightening way. So I am ultra-calm, and that’s what my daughter is used to. She’s not spoiled, she’s just happy and bubbly. Not the meek little stain on the carpet my parents raised me to be.

I don’t know what to do. It’s clear I can never, ever leave her alone with them, and at the moment I am heartsick with anger.

On the other hand, it’s not name-calling. It’s not denigration. It’s not hitting. It’s just two self-satisfied old farts who think they shouldn’t have to be bothered by their granddaughter, and think they have a right to yell and stomp away when she’s more than they want to handle. The truth is, they just don’t like children.

Any advice?

Put them up in a hotel?

You’re going to need to set some sort of boundaries with them about what they CAN do if they are getting annoyed at what (to them) seems like terrible behavior. And for that to work, I think they need to stay at a hotel (which also means shorter visits, I suspect). If they are living with you for seven days, it helps make them feel like they are members of the family, with full rights to talk to her like they’d talk to their own kid. Also, with them staying there, you can’t really restrict access if they violate those boundaries. You need to be able to kick them out (“I think we are all getting tired and cranky. See you tomorrow!”) without the nuclear option of sending them home entirely. Sending them back-across-the-country home is so drastic you won’t ever want to invoke it. Sending them back to the hotel for the night is much more manageable. And you may never need to–they will be on better behavior if they feel like they are guests, and they may also be somewhat more tolerant if they are getting breaks.

The hotel is a great stop measure. They mightn’t like it though, be prepared !

Everybody has their own perspective. When visiting my brother a few years ago I had a young nephew that was utterly non-complaint with polite requests to settle down and would be continually disruptive for attention. When my brother started to get serious with his son and pulled him out from scrambling underneath the dining room table during Thanksgiving Dinner, his then wife (now his ex-wife) chastised him for being “abusive” for daring to pick him up and warn him. There were 5 adults and 3 other kids in the room witnessing this nonsense and none of us were charmed by his defiant antics. The other kids were more pissed off than the adults were at his behavior.

This is not to say that your daughter is not the most lovely child in the world, but for most adults especially older ones, a kid that makes bedtime an extended trial and is non-compliant with requests to go to bed is not charming, they are an exhausting PITA, especially if you are coming from a household where kids are expected to obey adults.

A hotel is your best bet.

It sounds like they’re way past due for A Talk. Daughter’s in bed, so now’s a good time. Ultimately, they both need to be told that when they’re at that point they’re annoyed SAY NOTHING and just walk away. Tell you if they need to (if you’re not in the area). If they’re incapable, or this turns into an argument, or they start to lose it in their characteristic manner while you’re trying to have this dialogue, then yes, it’s hotel time.

Make a list of points you need to make with them, and stay on point whenever they have a hissy and try to derail. If that’s not possible, if a talk with them on this kind of subject matter is impossible, then yes, hotel time again.

This is your daughter and she’s being raised the way you want her to be. The differences need to be pointed out to them so they recognize when they’re not doing it right - if you don’t say anything they have no idea. Really. They have no idea you’re doing things differently and that they need to align with that or not stay in the house. Your daughter doesn’t need to be confused by relatives she’s not all that close to.

Another perspective is that she’s continually getting older and she’ll soon be able to handle herself with them on her own. I don’t see the harm in talking to her about it on her level for the moment and make sure she understands Grandma and Grandpa are moody people who have a different way of approaching life than the other adults she’s used to. She needs to understand them being mean to her isn’t her fault.

They are grandparents and are missing out on one of the best parts of having kids. I do not want to have to discipline my grandkids. That is my son’s job.

Indeed. And until they can see it this way, or come to some similar realization, they don’t have any right to parent a child who already has parents.

Young children need consistent rules, not two different rules from two different sets of parents, backed up with consequences, not threats which are never followed through on. Grandparents who refuse to be grandparents should be treated the same way: Whatever you tell them has to lead to action if they fail to hold up their side of the bargain.

Thanks for everyone’s thoughts. I’ve had a couple hours to cool down, now. I’m trying to see it as an opportunity for my daughter to be exposed to the fact that not everyone is like her mom. And on my part, I need to get it through my thick head that visits from my parents mean more work for me, because there are more people in the house who needs constant sorting out. I can’t count on them to keep my daughter entertained while I see to the hostessing.

My husband’s parents come to visit and basically take care of my daughter–play nicely with her, read her bedtime story, watch her while my husband and I have a date night. I guess I got confused and thought maybe my parents could be the same :stuck_out_tongue:

Growing up my grandparents were just a few streets away. Visited them often.

It was drilled into the 4 of us to always be on your best behavior when seeing them. I quickly learned that acceptable things at home were absolutely not accepted at the grandparents. Tone of voice, yelling, jumping, running, etc.

The thing is, neither of these examples is a parallel to Sattua’s situation. In astro’s example, the person disciplining the kid is the kid’s parent. In davida03801’s, you’re talking about following house rules when you’re in a different house. Both of those are perfectly legit.

Sattua’s kid is in her own house, and someone who isn’t a parent is trying to impose their rules. That’s not legit.

You could try explaining that to them - our house, our rules, we’ll do the disciplining as we see fit - but I don’t get the sense it would work. A hotel sounds good, because it allows for maintaining boundaries much more clearly.

Grandparent chiming in here.

A couple of years ago, the grandkids lived half way across the country, so visits were sporadic. When I did visit (usually for about a week at a time), I needed a place where I could recoup without the chaos and noise. (Hey, I live by myself and I love the quiet.)

Now that the kids are no longer babies and toddlers, and they’ve moved closer (within a few hours), I see them about once a month or so. It’s still very noisy and chaotic.

One thing that drives me bonkers is that their parent will tell them to do something (or not) often multiple times, then not reinforce it until the child gets in trouble for doing it (or not). Bedtime is a perfect example: HallGK is told several times to get his pajamas on and HallGK ignores them until one or the other parent (usually dad) explodes and HallGK gets into trouble for not putting on his pajamas.

On the other hand, when I’m there (or when they’re at my house), the kids know what grammy says, she means. If I say, “Put on your pajamas, and then we’ll read a story,” that’s what happens and they put on their pajamas and a story gets read. I tell them once and no one gets in trouble.

Overall, I think that for the most part, their parents are good parents, and they allow me to be a grandparent, but in the end, they’re still kids. Kids come with noise and chaos (sometimes), and I’ve been there and done that. A little bit goes a long way.

So disputes and disagreements with your parents* don’t end *when you yourself become a parent?

I thought nothing could get under your skin more then your parent’s opinion on your driving skills. Apparently not.

From what the OP has written, this is not a stand-alone incident of grandparents getting overwhelmed by an unruly child. Taking the OP at face value, it is part and parcel of a toxic parenting approach that made her terribly unhappy.

Sattua, at some point, losing one’s temper can flare into verbal and emotional abuse, and you have every right (indeed, a duty) to shield your daughter from that. It will be necessary to limit their interaction and to separate them when things get heated. Don’t engage. Walk away from any tirade, and take your daughter with you into another room.

For the future, no staying in your home. I agree with all the others that there needs to be a place where you can send them when enough is enough. You will have to push back.

Some people become better as grandparents than they were as parents, but it doesn’t sound like yours are going to go that way. I’m sorry for this disappointment.