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Are You a Toxic Grandparent?

What are the signs that indicate you are a toxic grandparent? 

Are we patient enough with our grandkids? Are we able to teach them what’s best for them? We hope we are not too harsh when we punish them. These are some questions every grandparent asks themselves at some point in life. While it’s completely normal, we may do things (without realizing it) that may hurt the kids somehow.

If you’re one of the people who want to know more about how to raise your grandchildren healthily and avoid becoming a toxic grandparent, continue reading our article. You may be surprised at how many things are considered toxic.

toxic grandparent
Photo by NDAB Creativity from Shutterstock

1. They give the grandkids harsh punishments

Undoubtedly, healthy education and discipline are the best for every family. However, if somebody is a toxic grandparent, they will apply various unusual methods to punish their grandkids.

A youngster who doesn’t finish their duties might be placed in a long, isolated timeout by a poisonous grandma. Strict discipline may also be verbal and emotional, particularly when a grandparent won’t talk to a grandchild for forgetting to contact them on their birthday or to express gratitude for anything.

One of the worst common types of punishment that only a toxic grandparent would do is to hit their grandkids. In most cases, this is a trauma for the children, who may develop anxiety and fear towards their grandparents and avoid visiting them anymore.

2. They’re verbally & emotionally abusive

In addition, verbal or emotional abuse against their grandchildren is another sign of toxic grandparents. This might manifest as giving them offensive nicknames, making fun of them in front of others, or manipulating their emotions to achieve their goals. Even when this kind of abuse isn’t evident through physical means, it still causes harm.

3. They diminish the authority of their children toward their grandchildren

Most of the time, toxic grandparents ignore the rules of the home, encourage their children to disobey their parents, and let them do anything they want, whether or not it’s right. This is a serious warning sign that no parent should overlook. Establish some limits, have a conversation with them, and let them know that they must follow home rules and that they shouldn’t get into trouble before things get out of hand.

4. They’re narcissistic

Some grandparents want continuous appreciation for being the family rock, and they anticipate receiving lavish accolades from the entire family. Some narcissistic grandparents always want sympathy and anticipate it because of all they have given up for their unappreciative family. Furthermore, if they don’t get the attention they want, they will try to guilt-trip everybody around for that.

5. They lack boundaries

Any toxic grandparent will have an issue with boundaries. Calling very often, dropping by their children’s house is usually announced because “they have the right to do that,” and most importantly, they want to become a better parent figure.

That’s why they’re trying to get the grandkids on their side, mostly by letting them do all the stuff their parents wouldn’t. Snooping, asking intimate questions, or presenting unwelcome presents to a grandchild and expecting them to wear or use them even though they didn’t want them are some other examples of ignoring boundaries.

Building a healthy relationship between you and your grandchildren is never easy, especially during these ever-changing times we’re living in. The generation gap is also another “issue,” and for a lot of people, it is hard to understand why things are different now from how they used to be when they were young.

If you’re worried about being a negative influence on your grandchildren or even worse becoming a toxic grandparent, I recommend reading the book How to Really Love Your Grandchild in an Ever-changing World. It offers valuable advice on building a healthy and loving relationship with your grandkids.

toxic grandparent
Photo by Andrii Iemelianenko from Shutterstock

6. They always play the victim

A toxic grandparent is someone who lacks empathy for the emotions of others and has an exaggerated ego. That frequently includes those who are closest to them, such as relatives. Grandma (or Grandpa) may become quite defensive at the smallest argument and find themselves “having chest pain” or suffering from a “huge headache.”

This typically occurs unexpectedly and is thought to be deliberate. This serves as a reminder to everyone that everything must go their way, or otherwise, they’ll get upset or worse. Playing the victim is one of the telltale characteristics of a toxic grandparent; rather than letting go of your disappointments when life doesn’t go as planned, you get worked up about little things.

7. They’re inexplicably jealous of other relationships their grandkids might have

When their grandkids form intimate bonds with other individuals, especially family members, toxic grandparents may get angry. These connections might be seen by them as challenges to their own.

Sometimes, in an attempt to feel closer, they could turn to undesirable habits like manipulating others. In severe circumstances, people could attempt to ruin the connections to make them feel less dangerous.

8. There is always competition between them and other grandparents

…Because a toxic grandparent will always want to be “grandparent number one” for the kids, even though a normal family has 4 grandparents and the grandchildren must have a healthy relationship with all of them.

No matter what, all Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Fourth of July parties have to be hosted at their home. A toxic grandparent will also go to all lengths to keep the other grandparents from seeing the children, should they choose to.

In addition to wanting to be a part of every plan and spend every vacation with the family, a toxic grandparent will also show up to the celebration uninvited. To gain more control over the situation, they also pretend to be “the kids’ favorite.”

9. They divide the family

This shouldn’t come as a surprise after everything you’ve read before. In most cases, a toxic grandparent may intentionally cause rifts between their grandkids and other family members, play favorites, and even set the grandchildren against one another.

10. Trying to gain the love of their grandkids by buying them a lot of gifts

It’s natural to desire to befriend and spoil your grandchildren. And because of that, kids prefer their grandparents more than their parents. However, some grandparents use gift-giving as a strategic chess move to win over their grandchildren’s affection.

As odd as it may seem, receiving too many gifts too frequently might be very bad. It is not only extremely misleading, but it also teaches children a sense of materialism and spoiledness, which negatively impacts their future financial education.

Bottom line:

In reality, nobody is flawless. As humans, we are bound to make wrong decisions from time to time. And while you can expect to be loved and trusted by your grandkids and to indulge them, there are bounds to this that no one should ever cross.

I hope this article was interesting and educational as well, so you will never end up being a toxic grandparent in your grandkids’s eyes. Enjoy seeing them grow and cherish every moment together because they’re making our golden years much, much better.

You may also like 11 Frugal Ways to Entertain Your Grandchildren

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