Anne Chilton gives her advice on how to handle difficult grandparents in this week’s column.
Some people would think I was lucky having such a wonderful grandma for my girls. She comes round every weekend, takes them to see the latest films and arranges activities like dancing and horse riding. The problem is, we don’t get a look in. I know she loves them but they are beginning to say they don’t want to go with her all the time. They want us to be together as a family. I don’t want to stop her seeing the girls but how do I get her to back off and give us some time with them?
You’re right, you do need to regain some degree of control and start laying down some boundaries about acceptable levels of contact .
I hear that she loves the girls and it sounds like she is just trying to be a good grandmother. The first thing you need to do is decide what is an acceptable amount of contact and the activities you are happy for her to be involved with. That’s you setting the boundaries.
Then you need to decide the things you and the girls want to do together as a family. By having a plan of how you want things to be, you start any discussions from a much firmer position.
Then you need to have the discussion you are dreading. How you do this needs careful consideration. Maybe ask their grandma out for coffee and explain that the girls are getting older and have more idea of the things they want to be doing for themselves. Add that you don’t want to miss out on their growing up either. Explain that while you really appreciate all she has done and will continue to do for the girls, you need to work out a new regime. You can then state what you and the girls want to do and ask what she would like to contribute and what time she would like to have with them. Negotiate and compromise. No-one will get everything they want, but you will all end up with something and a bit less resentful than you currently feel.