5 Times When Grandparents Can Make the Rules

  • 01 of 07

    Because Sometimes It Is Our Business

    grandparents can make the rules in their own homes
    When the grandchildren are in a grandparent's care, the grandparents get to call the shots.. Steven Debenport/Getty Images

    Children used to be seen and not heard. Now it's grandparents who are advised to bite their tongues any time they find themselves on the verge of offering advice. Sometimes we forget that grandparents do have the right to make decisions about grandchildren under certain circumstances, specifically when the grandkids are in our houses or under our care, especially if the parents aren't on the premises. Read on for five decisions about grandkids that grandparents can make.

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  • 02 of 07

    When Grandchildren Don't Show Respect

    grandparent disciplines grandchild
    Grandparents can require that grandchildren be respectful. Sam Edwards/Getty Images

    Coming from an era when social interactions were more civil, grandparents are sometimes shocked by the language and behavior of their grandchildren. Grandparents have the right to require the grandchildren to observe a certain level of civility in their presence, even if the standard is higher than what is expected by their parents. It's probably wise, however, not to set the bar too high. It's perfectly okay, for example, to ban profanity in your presence. It may not be advisable to...MORE require "sir" and "ma'am" if the parents don't require it. Grandparents do not have to tolerate backtalk from grandchildren, although they should discuss how to discipline the grandchildren with the parents before taking any action.

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  • 03 of 07

    When Grandchildren Are Using Electronics

    grandchildren and their electronic devices
    The pull of electronic devices can be powerful, but grandparents have greater power. John Lamb/Getty Images

    Our grandparents could have never conceived of a time when the use of electronic gadgets would become an issue in families, but in many families, it is a big issue. When grandparents are caring for grandchildren, they can ask that they turn off their devices. They have this right under the "my house, my rules" clause. After all, when they are babysitting, grandparents are responsible for monitoring what the grandchildren are seeing on their screens. Sometimes it's easier to turn off...MORE the screens than to monitor viewing, especially when several grandchildren with several screens are involved.

    Discuss screen time with the parents before it becomes an issue. The parents may have some good strategies to offer. One strategy that usually works is to have a wealth of other activities on tap. Try outdoor games, a nature scavenger hunt or a sport that's especially suited for a grandparent's house. Indoor activities can include card games, puzzles, and board games. Actually, once they are pried away from their screens, the grandchildren may have a dandy time in free play.

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  • 04 of 07

    When the Grandchildren are Being Destructive

    grandchildren destroying grandparents' property
    Grandparents can stand up against will destruction of their property. Fiona Jackson-Downes and Dirk Lindner/Getty Images

    Collateral damage may occur when grandchildren are on the premises, but grandparents can and should insist that grandkids show respect for their belongings. It's a good life lesson, and somewhere down the line a spouse, roommate or friend will thank you for teaching it. That does not mean that you come down hard on a grandchild who has an accident and breaks something.

    When your grandchildren are very small, you'll have to make a decision: Do you want to put some belongings out of...MORE harm's way, or do you want to teach the grandkids to leave them alone? Chances are that you'll make the same choice you made when your own kids were small. On the other hand, maybe your more relaxed attitude as a grandparent means that you'll want to put your treasures out of reach so you don't have to worry about them.

    People are always more important than things, but some things make our lives easier or richer. There's no reason for a grandparent to sit idly by and see them damaged.

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  • 05 of 07

    When Necessary to Keep Grandchildren Safe

    grandparents must know about car safety seats
    Grandparents can make some of the calls about grandchild safety. Odilon Dimier/Getty Images

    One of the surest ways to get in trouble with your grandkids' parents is by not enforcing their safety rules. Good grandparents always use child restraints in vehicles and respect other parental guidelines about safety. In addition, grandparents can enforce higher standards of safety than the parents if they choose. Try to resist the temptation to wrap your grandchild in cotton wool, but if an activity strikes you as dangerous, feel free to call it off. There are tons of activities that...MORE aren't dangerous. Save the ones that are marginal and let the parents make the call.

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  • 06 of 07

    When It's Time to Eat

    When grandchildren are picky eaters, what are grandparents to do.
    Feeding picky eaters can be a challenge for grandparents. Camille Tokerud/Getty Images

    Like safety issues, food issues can cause discord between parents and grandparents. Grandparents should respect the wishes of the parents in regard to the grandkids' diets, and they should be especially careful about food allergies. In the grandparents' home, however, they have the right to make grandchildren eat at the table and to set other parameters for dining.

    Dealing with grandchildren who are picky eaters is a challenge. Wise grandparents take the time to learn what foods their...MORE grandchildren eat readily and to offer some of those foods at every meal. If every mealtime becomes a struggle to get the grandkids to eat, there won't be an opportunity to emphasize those other niceties dear to grandparents' hearts, such as manners and good dinner conversation.

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  • 07 of 07

    And Some Times When They Can't

    Grandchildren safety
    What grandparents do get to do far outweighs what they don't get to do. Sturti/Getty Images

    Grandparents don't get to decide to be in the delivery room when their grandchildren are born. That's a strictly invitation-only affair. And that's just the first time grandparents get to practice observing boundaries. Consider these eight areas not in a grandparent's domain.

    Grandparents don't get to decide which parenting style will be used on their grandchildren or whether the house they live in is clean enough. And most of the time, even when they really, really want to...MORE say something to parents, they don't.

    It's what grandparents do get to do that makes it all worthwhile.