Grandson has NO RULES!

bergie42July 3, 2009

I was looking over this website and decided to join this group. Hopefully it is the right one to discuss our problem.

We only have ONE child and ONE grandchild. Our "kids" had trouble getting pregnant, and when our grandson was born, he spent 10 days in ICU before he was allowed to come home. He is very precious to all of us, and our "kids" are wonderful, caring parents who have made him the center of their lives.

They have given him everything a child could ever want...except one thing. He has absolutely NO RULES. He's a beautiful, intelligent child, does well in school, is well-mannered in public...but here's the problem.

HE runs the household. HE tells THEM what he will eat (JUNK!) , when HE wants to go to bed, what HE wants to do, etc....AND THEY ALLOW HIM TO DO IT! He doesn't even brush his teeth because he doesn't want to. He has no responsibility to do anything at all. They wait on him and cater to his every whim.

We are most fearful that this will be allowed to continue, and came to a head recently when he was at our home for one of his frequent "sleepovers." He loves coming here but it is getting increasingly more difficult us to have him come. After wrestling him for several years (the usual stuff), the last time he came struck fear in our hearts. When asked to pick up a game we were playing, he uttered this bone-chilling comment in this frighteningly adult voice: "Never have, never will. THEY do it for me because I'm the boss in our house."

We know that our kids can see this behavior pattern emerging year after year, but seem to be powerless to do anything about it. They make threats but never follow through. It's almost as though they're AFRAID of him.

Naturally, we're very concerned and feel that they need to use some "tough love" techniques because we can see where this is going. I taught high school for 36 years and have seen first-hand the results of lack of discipline in the home.

We so badly would like to help, but in no way want to jeopardize the great relationship with our kids. Our son (my step-son) is a child of divorce and he and his father for many years did not have a great relationship, and it has taken many, many years for them to become close.'s a real predicament for us...and very painful for "grampa." I could go on and one, but I've written enough already. Have any of you experienced a problem like this, and do you have any suggestions about what role we should be playing in all this? Thanks so much!

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How old is this kid? Since this last sleepover have you discussed this with your son? You really need to tell him of your fear of him. I have a nephew that was given everything he ever wanted. Now he can't do anything himself. He is now 24, no job, couldn't finish trade school because he didn't get along with any of his teachers..of course, it is always someone elses fault, not his. Over 25,000 wasted on school. I have had a few run ins with him, he freely cusses at me in front of his grandparents and parents. Everyone either ignores his behavior or walks on egg shells so not to say anything that might upset him.

Is this the future your son and daughter wishes for your grandchild. They need some support, maybe some kind of family therapy before he ends up like my nephew. Copy your post and give it to them if you have trouble talking to them but you just have to say something.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 12:52PM
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There's nothing really you can do about it; when it all is said and done, it's not your business. Unfortunately the legacy of poor parenting from your husband to his son has now been passed on to his son.

I agree the age matters, there are many cultures that decree children have their way up until their third or fourth birthday, after that the indulgence is corrected. But even if this boy is beyond that there's not much you can do besides model good behavior in his presence. You are done raising kids and cannot raise someone else's from another household.

The future of these kids is not necessarily good. There's one in our extended family who used to say straight out he didn't have to follow rules because he was special. I personally witness him having a temper tantrum at age eight, the kind where he threw himself on the ground kicking and screaming because he wanted an ice cream right now and the Dairy Queen wasn't open at ten in the morning. As his grandmother flapped around helplessly, trying to explain to him, he too suddenly looked her straight in the eye and in an adult voice said: "Who do you think you are talking to?" It made the hairs on my neck stand up.

He's now thirteen and is a budding sociopath, very nice and charming upfront, and sneaky and manipulative behind your back. Think Eddie Haskell. Most adults don't see it.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 2:32PM
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I just don't understand parents, such as the ones mentioned above. I have seen this same situation with other people's children, been in their house, and seen the child running the household.

I think the only thing you can do in your situation is for your husband to have a quiet chat to his son, asking him if he needs any help. I think you have to be most tactful here !

Or, you could seek information yourself, on how to modify this behaviour from now on. Subtlety is what is needed here too !

If the child is coming to your house, this is the perfect opportunity to try out you skills. Your house, your rules sort of thing.

It is a shame, because we all know how these children grow up, and what havoc they create in other people's lives, and their own.

Good luck with it all.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 3:11AM
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Honestly? You can't change the way these parents (and I use the term loosely, I'm afraid) raise their child. The only thing you can possibly do here--and it's going to be a 'rock and hard place' decision, is to decide how much you want this situation to impact negatively on your lives. There is no way I'd EVER have that child in my house for a sleepover. Not if he feels he doesn't need to listen to or heed the rules. Just too dangerous all the way around to be responsible for a little terror like that. I'd be hesitant to ever have him visit without his parents. I know they won't keep him in line, but if they're there, you could plead tiredness/migraine, whatever and send them all home when you've had enough.

shame--that poor child is going to pay bigtime for his parent's lack.

I have seen this sort of thing before. My DH's brother was extremely sickly as a child. As a result, he was very catered to. He's an adult in his 50's now, and he's such a lost soul. He really doesn't know how to get along in the world. Has a law degree and works as a night watchman because he doesn't have the drive/self confidence to work in his field. I really believe he went to college and law school mainly so he wouldn't have to go out and go to work after high school--he really lacks any drive to do for himself. Never married--most women won't have a thing to do with this needy guy. And for many years, he had his mom feeding him, doing his laundry, etc, even though he was grown and should have been completely capable of those things.

Good luck--I think you'll need plenty

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 1:33PM
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But I'm absolutely sure the little hellion has terrific "self esteem".

A shame he'll later have to endure the trauma of the larger world knocking those sharp corners off of his terrible personality once he leaves home.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 1:50PM
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I couldn't possibly stand by and do nothing -- The consequences are just too horrifying.

If you think the parents will 'hear' you, I'd ask them to come by for lunch or dinner (without the little 'darling') and tell them that the last time he was at your house, something happened that concerned you greatly. Tell them that you have no wish to 'butt in' where you're not wanted, but that you love them, love him, and just couldn't do nothing. But that because you love them and don't want anything to damage your relationship, you're only going to say this once unless they ask you for advice.

You're right, of course, about the boy needing rules, and about the horrific consequences of not providing them. Is there any way the parents would agree to family counselling?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 4:41PM
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My house, my rules. That's it!!! I do not care if it is a vistor, my grandkids, or my great grandkids. It is amazing how kids want boundries, but we as adults must be adults and not let them rule us. I am vocal with my kids and some other relatives but that is me. Some of my DH's relatives don't come around much, but they are really suffering now. Their kids are bouncing all over, not graduating, no jobs and making life miserable for their parents. No my kids are not perfect, never will be but I can count on them for anything.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 6:28PM
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I think you can assert your own rules at your house. My kids do have rules at home. But there are still some different rules at Grandma's. My mom has a lot of little breakables at her house and would not just put them up for the grandkids. She insisted they be taught not to touch them. And darn it if my kids didn't figure out that Grandma just has some rules we don't have at home. At home, we just don't have little breakables setting around to tempt them. Sometimes the kids just test grandma, see how much she's spoil them. One visit when my DS was about 4 he got out some toys and didn't pick them up the first time my mom asked him to. He walked away and went to do something else. My mom picked up the toys and put them in her closet, gone. DS came back, wanted the toys again and my mom said "Sorry, you didn't put them away. So I did, and now you don't have them anymore. Next time, you should put toys away when you're done." You bet he didn't mess with grandma again. DH's parents are positively anal, they get truly upset if the kids touch the walls or windows. Now at home I'd be insane if I tried to keep 4 kids from ever touching walls! But at that Grandma's, they know and follow the rule. (We don't actually visit there often, it's stressful for everyone to be that extreme.) But I appreciate that the grandmothers set rules at their house too, instead of the stories I hear of grandmothers who undermine parents' rules by living by "anything goes at grandmas." I would rather they support me in setting expectations of behavior. At someone else's house, their rules trump mom and dad's.

My point is, kids learn that there are different expectations in different places. Heck, my own DD is a model student at school and her teachers do not believe that she ever talks back to me! LOL. Does your grandson have behavior issues at school? If not, then you know he can respond to a change of rules/expectations in different environments.

You could work your concerns into conversation with the boy's parents. In fact, I think you should do so with caution, but do it. Maybe they are concerned too and would appreciate the support and listening ear. You could model to them that he can in fact respect your rules, so he can learn to respect theirs to if they assert them. Try to voice your suggestions in a way of "He can learn to do this" instead of "He doesn't, you don't make him..." Don't make it criticism. Make it clear what can be gained by expecting more of his behavior: success in school, better friendships, responsibility builds confidence, people will trust him. He will be a happier kid in the long run if he is taught to respect others. That is what this really comes down to. It isn't just about obeying rules superficially. It is about realizing how his behavior affects others, and how that in turn affects how they feel about him. I have used the line with my kids, "Your friends/people/grandma and grandpa don't like it when you act like that. It's not fun and it makes them feel sad/angry/tired."

You can work on establishing the boudaries and expectations at your house when your grandson is there. Next time, say to HIM, "You said something last visit that I did not like." Talk about it, ask if he meant it, get his perspective, listen to what he thinks about his behavior. Tell him he should not talk to you like that again, or about his parents like that again. State the rules of picking up after himself at your house and that you know he can do that. Even ask him to help with other tasks, like setting the table. Tell him how helpful he is and praise his contributions as being grown up. It will make him feel so much better than the out of control tantrums and not knowing who is really in charge. Reward him with your attention when he respects you, but not when he doesn't. You can do this between the two of you. He is old enough to talk about it with you. It is great if you can get his parents on board. But if if they can't/won't enforce it at home, you can get his cooperation at your house. You can just speak to him straight forward, tell him you and he will both be happier when you respect each other instead of argue and get angry at each other. Let him know you're there to help him be his best self, which is NOT tantrums. Make him feel proud of himself when he shows respect for you and others. Make it feel better to him to behave respectfully than to have a fit to get his way.

You CAN expect him to follow your rules at your house and treat you with respect regardless of what his parents let him get away with. You CAN show your support to his parents by listening and letting them know you care about your grandson and their family.

Sorry, that got much longer than I intended, it rambled some. I thought about deleting and trying it shorter. But I'm leaving it as it is, I want to say it all. ;o)

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 11:46PM
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my brother and SIL are raising kids this way. they raised my nephew19 this way and now deal with the consequences and are raising my niece7 this way. it is embarassing at times to watch it.

but when on occassion i babysit her, she isn't allowed to behave this way. she tried to boss me around and I told her that you are 7 and I am 43 and you can't possibly know everything better than me and it is not nice to be rude to people. if you want somehting you should politelly ask. she was in shock, her parents never speak to her like this. but she was exceptionally nice after that and told her parents that she enjoyed time wiht me and wish she could do it more often. i think kids actually deep inside want and like structure. they feel safer when adults are in charge.

now i am pretty lenient parent myself but this sounds way too much.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 4:32PM
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Bergie~ Several things are going on, but first, the situation where he was in ICU. It is a known thing that babies that have challenged beginnings are 'fighters', and they are 'fighters' for life. It doesn't mean he is destined to be a bad boy, but he has a lot of determination, so that needs to be put into a constructive avenue. Will his parents let you both engineer his athletic track, like soccer - you will have time with him and also get him to allow structure and proper behavior.
Also, it seems to me that you are already fretful or even fearful, of what he is capable of. You did say that he was good in public, so like most lil' stinkers, he knows where the button controls are on mom & dad and you are worried.
I think the only way you can help him is to have allegiance with your 'kids' because nothing is worse than grandparents over stepping boundaries. You didn't say how old he was, so for me, I would make a game of it. Maybe even a posterboard of " Nanny house rules" I want to be fun-loving grandma because I figure hard stuff needs to come from parents, BUT if he is getting no rules at all, this will be tough. Dont get sucked into being hard, strict grandparents because that means you got stuck rearing children all over again. Your 'kids' will want you to be active in his life, especially as he gets older, but if they dont step up, I would step back and busy myself elsewhere until they are ready to discuss more grandparent time. Then and only then, will they hear you, because they want to!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 11:29AM
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