30 Things That Grandparents Should Never Do

Grandparents are some of the most important figures in any child's life, and nobody wants to set a bad example! To ensure your grandkids the happiest family environment imaginable, there are a few steps to take as a grandma or grandpa.

From inciting sugar-fueled chaos to behaving manipulatively toward family members, here are 30 things that grandparents should never do.

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  1. Ignore social media etiquette: While many grandparents aren't plugged in on Facebook and Instagram, it's important for the tech-savvy few to abide by some unwritten social media rules: don't post unflattering/inappropriate photos of the grandkids, don't hijack every post and turn it into a conversation, don't make vague statuses to guilt kids or grandkids, and don't add your grandkids' friends unless they instigate it.
  2. Suggest baby names: Choosing a name is a very personal experience for parents, and hearing others' unwarranted opinions is very difficult. No future parents want to know that Edith was your elementary-school bully or that they should name their baby after a distant deceased aunt.
  3. Buy major gifts without consulting the parents: Whether it's a car, a life-size teddy bear, or an iPad, grandparents should never make major purchases for grandkids without consulting their parents.
  4. Expect to be present in the delivery room: Whether a new mom invites her parents or in-laws into the delivery room is her choice, and being pressured either way is not helpful for anybody.
  5. Force beliefs on the grandkids: While you might think that it's important to raise them "the right way," you should allow children to determine political and spiritual beliefs on their own.
  6. Leave parents out of the loop: There's nothing more frustrating than not knowing your kids' whereabouts — even though grandparents are usually trustworthy, it's extremely important to keep Mom and Dad in the loop.
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  1. Play favorites: Most grandparents don't realize that they're doing it, but using preferential language toward their grandchildren can cause emotional wounds that never heal.
  2. Make moms feel guilty about their feeding style: A mom's choice to breastfeed or bottle-feed is her own, and not every mother is able to choose breastfeeding. Condescending opinions from grandma about how to feed the baby are completely unnecessary.
  3. Air Mom and Dad's dirty laundry: While the stories of your kid's teenage mishaps may be funny to relay to adults, they'll only encourage small children to disobey. Save it for when they're older.
  4. Send everybody on a guilt trip: "I'll only be alive for a few more years, but if you want to spend Christmas in Hawaii, that's fine . . . " is exactly the type of behavior that should never occur.
  5. Ignore set diet rules: If a child's parents have them on a dairy-free, sugar-free, or gluten-free diet, it's not the grandparents' place to change it. Breaking diet rules can be very risky!
  6. Bad-mouth family members: No matter how frustrated a grandparent is at their kids, they should never express it in front of their grandchildren — talk about traumatizing!
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  1. Secretly break the rules: Breaking the rules set by Mom and Dad undermines their authority in front of the grandchildren, so if they enforce a specific bedtime, stick to it.
  2. Expect kids to parent the same way: "Back in your day" was good . . . for back in your day. Times change, parenting evolves, and good grandparents change with it!
  3. Compare grandkids to one another: While one of your grandchildren may be a better athlete or student than another, you don't need to mention it — the odds are that they're already hyperaware of their differences.
  4. Guilt new moms about their baby weight: Losing weight after having a child is no picnic, and pressure from parents won't help at all. It's better just not to mention weight at all!
  5. Take the grandkids for surprise haircuts: Haircuts are a big deal for little kids and should always be discussed with parents first — don't try to surprise Mom and Dad with a hip new bowl cut.
  6. Pry the grandkids for information about their parents: Never make your grandchild the middleman during fights, holiday planning, or divorces. It puts unnecessary pressure on them and simply isn't a healthy way to handle familial relationships.
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  1. Give pets as presents: No matter how much the grandchildren promise to be responsible for a new puppy or kitten, a new pet is a huge responsibility that should always be approved by the parents. Remember, a dog is for life . . . not just for Christmas!
  2. Tease about romantic interests: "Is that your new girlfriend? Do you like her?" Teasing grandkids about their romantic prospects might discourage them from sharing about their love life in the future, so don't put any undue pressure on crushes or dates.
  3. Advise Mom to work or stay at home: While becoming a stay-at-home mother used to be the norm, it's not always realistic or desirable for modern mommies. Grandparents should allow their daughter to make her own decisions about a chosen profession.
  4. Hop grandkids up on sugar before sending them home: Pixy Stix are wonderful, but feeding 25 of them to small children is not. Don't be that grandparent.
  5. Pass on prejudices: "It's just how I was raised" is no excuse for racism, sexism, or prejudice of any kind. Conveying these feelings to grandchildren is absolutely unacceptable under any circumstances.
  6. Interfere with the bedtime routine: Getting the grandkids all riled up before bed might be OK when they're staying at Grandma and Grandpa's house, but disrupting the sleep schedule at their parents' house is a no-no.
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  1. Dote too much on the grandkid's physical appearance: Your granddaughter might be the most beautiful little girl in your world, but focusing too much on her looks can be harmful in the long run. Try complimenting her problem-solving abilities or another interesting skill instead of her "pretty face."
  2. Question Mom and Dad in front of the kids: Even if a grandparent disagrees with their child's decisions, discussing it in front of the grandkids is not the way to handle the issue. Like they say, "monkey see, monkey do."
  3. Demand holiday visits: Deciding where to spend the holidays is stressful enough without pressure from the grandparents, so don't heap more anxiety onto your kids.
  4. Demean the grandchild's authority figures: While it's a possibility that a teacher graded your grandchild poorly because he or she plays favorites, the odds are that they were simply doing their job. Insulting babysitters, teachers, and coaches to your grandkids will encourage them to do the same.
  5. Use gender-restricting language toward the grandchildren: Telling a grandchild that she runs fast "for a girl" or dances well "for a boy" does a great deal of harm to their self-confidence and future aspirations. Never set gendered limits on a growing child!
  6. Use the grandkids for labor: Expecting the little ones to wash your car or mow the lawn every time they visit might make them feel used; simply accept help when it's offered, or be sure to say "please" with a big hug!