Grandparents Can't Face Summer Visit by Obnoxious Grandkids
DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: I have three grown children and nine grandchildren, including step-grands. My middle son married a woman with two children. Then they had three more. Their ages range from 5 up to 13.
All our middle son’s children are horribly behaved. My husband and I do not like to visit their home because it is filthy and the living room is a battleground of dumped out toys. The children jump off chairs onto the floor or onto tables. They eat where they want and wipe their fingers on the couches.
They are super-picky and mostly my daughter-in-law gets them food from McDonald’s or Taco Bell. If she serves them something they don’t want, they get straight up and throw it in the trash. They yell, they fight and hit each other, and they constantly interrupt.
Their mom refuses to discipline them in any way. My son is at least complacent in all of this. When we visit, none of them show any interest in seeing us. The older kids stay in their rooms playing video games and the younger ones stay in their room watching cartoons. We perch on the edge of our seats and try not to get sticky.
The 5-year-old is not yet potty trained and will go get a diaper and take it to his mom when he poops. He is in kindergarten and does not do that at school.
Our son is complaining that we never visit and states that we like our other grandchildren better. We don’t want to hurt his feelings, but both of my other children have decently behaved children with appropriate manners, and they seem to enjoy our presence and are delighted to see us.
We have taken all the grands places like the zoo or the water park, but on every occasion, those five were so ill-behaved that we can’t imagine taking them without the parents.
Now that summer is approaching, my other grandchildren have expressed a desire to stay with us for a week or two. We don’t think that we can handle those five wild ones. Once my son hears that the others are coming, he will demand we take his too. His two oldest may be off with their fathers during the summer, but he will want to send the 5-year-old and twin 8-year-olds. My other grandchildren are in this age range, but as I said, they are much better behaved.
How should I respond when he asks? --- FRAZZLED GRANDMA
DEAR FRAZZLED GRANDMA: It seems like it’s time you leveled with your son. He needs to know his children are out of control, and that you’re not willing to subject yourself or your home to their reign of terror, especially since they don’t seem to have much, if any, affection for you. I’d avoid comparing his kids to their cousins, but just because he’s complacent about how his children behave, doesn’t mean you have to tolerate it.
However, before completely ruling out having the kids to your house during the summer, you might consider making a little experiment or two to see how they’d behave for you without their parents present. You could offer to take just the kids out to eat somewhere other than their favorite fast food joints. Set down rules for what you expect of them, and the consequences of their failing to meet those expectations — and stick to your program. If they can’t behave for an hour or two under your supervision, it’s not reasonable to expect they’d do any better in your home. Share the results of any dry runs with your son, and if they prove to do better when Mom and Dad aren’t around for them to perform for, then maybe, just maybe, a short summer visit wouldn’t be so bad.
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