Girlfriends Guide for Grandparents Visiting Their Children and Grandchildren

by Shannon Hembree on July 1, 2011

​Grandparents are great. My kids adore their grandparents, and their grandparents adore them. I hear my friends talk all the time about how wonderful it was that the grandparents came for a visit or…how awful it was that the grandparents came for a visit. Since everyone had an opinion about these visits (both good and bad – and strong ones at that), I thought that a Girlfriends Guide for Grandparents might be in order. 

The quotes below have been compiled from lots of moms out there. They cover several different topics, but the common thread seemed to be the level of passion with which moms out there responded. So at the risk of stirring up a bit of drama myself…here goes!

Don’t Unproof the Childproofed.
“If you opened it, close it. If you unsealed it, reseal it. Put your meds in your mouth, not out for my son to find and play with. Leaving things out or around is as good as handing it over to my son. It’s like in that movie, ‘If you build it, they will come,’ only in our house, it is ‘If you leave it, he will find.’”

Remember: Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness, But Only if There Are No Small Children Around. Then It’s Next to Impossible.
“Don’t give helpful hints on keeping the house clean. It’s not that we don’t know how to do it. It’s that we have no time to do it, and if there were money to hire a maid, we would have done that already.”

“Commenting on the lack of cleanliness and order in your home is just wrong. I’m still steaming about the time my [visiting relative] said something to me about the fact that if my house was more tidy maybe my husband and kids wouldn’t be so stressed out.”

“Please help with cleaning up around the house if you are able – not in a condescending sort of way, but in a ‘we’re just trying to be helpful’ way.”

Mind Your Peas & Carrots.
“Don’t make comments such as “Wow, you sure feed your kids a lot of processed foods!” as the mom is putting an organic turkey hot dog and fruit on your grandchild’s plate. Your grandchildren’s parents would love if her kids ate carrot sticks and tofu for every meal and would love it if their child had never been introduced to Chick-Fil-A but that’s not real life. They do the best they can to make sure the kids eat as healthy as possible.”

“You used to tell me, ‘My house, my rules.’ Please apply the same rule when visiting me. Don’t try and feed my kids foods that I have said I don’t feed them.”

Let Your Visit Be the Gift.
“Do not OVERINDULGE with gifts. The gift should be the visit.”

Stick With the Schedule.
“Especially when kids are little try to be sensitive to typical dinner times, bed times, etc. I think the adult kids [parents] need to understand that some flexibility is necessary too. Things get to happen around grandma and grandpa that don’t usually happen and that’s ok.”

 Know Your Audience.
“Make an extra effort to spend time doing what the grandkids really like to do, not just hanging with your adult children.”

[If you want us to act as tour guides] “Research the area being visited a little and have some ideas of what sites you might like to see if it’s possible.”

Don’t Remind Us That You Walked Uphill Both Ways.
“Never use the phrase, ‘Back in my day,’ or any variation thereof. Just accept that we are doing what we think is best for our kids and leave it at that.”

“Even if you don’t agree with our use of safety gadgets and precautions, we think they’re important, so please stick with them and don’t criticize.”

Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Not a Spanker.
“Commenting on how you discipline your kids is…very annoying.”

“I don’t spank my kids. Accept it. If you can’t accept it, please just talk behind my back about it. I’d prefer that to hearing about it again and again.”

These are just a few of the quotes I received when I put out the call. Rather than trying to sum it up with a clever quip, I will leave you with two quotes that I thought said it all: “Don’t take your grown child’s parenting choices as criticism for the way you raised him or her.” Failing that, “Take your own advice from when I was growing up: ‘If you don’t have something nice to say, just don’t say it.’”

If you have any suggestions you would like to add to our guide, you can e-mail us at

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