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

- By Jasmine Cameron-chileshe

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.”

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