The Daily Telegraph
Modern grandparents ‘too soft’ on children
Study shows half of parents have fallen out with their own parents over how to raise their offspring
A study has revealed that grandparents are often perceived by their children as being too soft or lenient on their grandchildren. According to the poll of more than 2,000 people, half of parents have fallen out with their child’s grandparents over parenting styles. Discipline was the biggest source of contention between the different generations, and issues surrounding eating habits and screen time were also common areas of conflict.
‘Parents may feel their authority is undermined when their parents are too lenient or too strict’
WHEN it comes to stereotypes of parenting styles across generations it would be easy to assume that grandparents typically prefer a stricter, more old fashioned approach to discipline.
However, a study has revealed that grandparents are often perceived as being too soft or lenient on their grandchildren by their children.
According to the research, half of parents have fallen out with their child’s grandparent over parenting styles.
While issues surrounding eating habits and screen time were common areas of conflict between the different generations of parents, discipline was the biggest source of contention.
More than 2,000 American parents of children aged 18 or younger were interviewed for a national poll on children’s health at Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan.
Within the study, among parents who reported major or minor disagreements over discipline, 40 per cent said that grandparents were too soft on their child, while just 14 per cent complained that grandparents were being too tough.
Dr Sarah Clark, co-director of the poll, said: “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 permitted.”
She argued that some disagreements may stem from intergenerational differences, with some grandparents insisting, for example, that “the way we used to do things” is the correct way to parent.
Nearly half of the parents questioned said they had had disagreements with one or more grandparent about their own parenting style, with one in seven going so far as to limit the amount of time their child sees certain grandparents.
Some 57 per cent of disputes involved discipline issues, 44 per related to meals, while 36 per cent of disagreements related to levels of TV or screen time. Other contentious subjects included manners, health and safety, bedtime, treating some grandchildren differently to others and sharing photos or information on social media.
New research and recommendations on child health and safety were also highlighted as a potential source of disagreement, particularly if grandparents did not use a booster seat when driving grandchildren to school for example.
Dr Clark said: “Grandparents play a special role in children’s lives and can be an important resource for parents through support, advice and babysitting.
“But, they may have different ideas about the best way to raise the child and that can cause tension.
“If grandparents contradict or interfere with parenting choices, it can have a serious strain on the relationship.”
She added: “These findings indicate that grandparents should strive to understand and comply with parent requests to be more consistent with parenting choices.”