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  • Writer's pictureAlba Macareno

Toxic Grandparents

Before becoming a mother, I had a good relationship with my mom. We sometimes had arguments or she would not understand some choices my husband and I made, but that was OK for us. However, once our daughter was born, she started to change. She demanded that we send her a picture every day of the baby (she lives in another country than we do) because she wanted to see her. Since we took so many pictures, we would send her one, too. When she came to visit us, our daughter was three months old, my mom would not respect the times when our baby had to sleep, she would clean the house because when the baby was awake she wanted to spend time with her. My husband and I found that very rude as it took us a lot of effort to bring our daughter to sleep, for my mother to make noise and wake her up. Despite telling her one and another time, she would not respect either of us. From that moment, our relationship changed, as she would disrespect our decisions more and more, it was a constant fight with her. It became very difficult mentally for me to have contact with my mom, and so I decided to reduce it to calling her only twice a month - with that decision I feel better.


Becoming a mother is one of life's most incredible and transformative experiences. However, it can also bring unexpected challenges, as you can see, including dealing with toxic grandparents. While it's painful to acknowledge that someone you love dearly can be detrimental to your family's well-being, it's crucial to address these issues for the sake of your children and your own peace of mind. In this blog post, we'll explore how toxic grandparents can affect your relationship with your own parents, the impact on your children, and offer some strategies on how to handle this delicate situation.


Understanding Toxic Grandparents

Toxic grandparents are individuals who exhibit behaviour, attitudes, or actions that can be harmful to your family's emotional well-being. These behaviours may range from excessive criticism, manipulation, disrespect of boundaries, favouritism, to even neglect or abuse. While it can be challenging to accept that someone close to you falls into this category, recognising the signs is the first step towards addressing the issue.


The Impact on Your Relationship with Your Parents

The relationship between a mother and her parents is often a complex mix of love, respect, and shared history. When grandparents exhibit toxic behaviour, it can strain this relationship significantly. Toxicity can manifest in various ways, including manipulation, criticism, boundary violations, or emotional neglect. For mothers, this can result in feelings of guilt, frustration, and sadness as they grapple with the dichotomy of wanting their parents involved in their lives and protecting themselves and their children from harm.


How Toxic Grandparents Affect Their Grandchildren

The impact of toxic grandparents on your children can be profound and long-lasting. Children are incredibly impressionable, and negative experiences with their grandparents can affect their self-esteem, emotional well-being, and even their perception of family dynamics. Toxic behaviour from grandparents can create confusion, stress, and anxiety in your children, which is not conducive to a healthy upbringing. It might also teach them inappropriate ways to handle relationships and conflicts, perpetuating a cycle of toxicity.


How to Deal with Toxic Grandparents
  • Set Boundaries: Clearly communicate your expectations and boundaries with toxic grandparents. Let them know what behaviour is unacceptable and what consequences will follow if those boundaries are violated.

  • Seek Support: Reach out to your partner, friends, or a therapist to help you cope with the emotional toll of dealing with toxic grandparents. Having a support system is essential during this challenging time.

  • Limit Contact: If necessary, limit your children's exposure to toxic grandparents. This may involve supervised visits or reducing the frequency of interactions. Explain the situation to your child in an age-appropriate manner. Reassure them that the grandparent's behaviour is not their fault.

  • Encourage Change: If you feel safe doing so, have an honest conversation with the toxic grandparents about their behaviour. Sometimes, people are unaware of the impact of their actions and might be willing to change if confronted respectfully.

  • Consider Professional Help: If the toxicity persists and affects your family deeply, consider family therapy. A professional therapist can mediate conversations and help all parties understand each other better.

  • Prioritise Your Children's Well-being: Remember that your primary responsibility is to protect and nurture your children. If toxic grandparents continue to harm your family despite your efforts, you may need to consider more drastic measures, such as legal action.

  • Lead by Example: Show your children that it's okay to establish healthy boundaries and prioritise their well-being. By doing so, you teach them valuable life lessons about self-respect and respect for others.

  • Focus on Self-Care: Take care of your own emotional well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy, practice mindfulness, and consider therapy for yourself if you find it helpful.

Dealing with toxic grandparents is undoubtedly a challenging journey, but your family's well-being should always come first. Remember that it's okay to put your children's safety and emotional health at the forefront of your decisions. Seek support, establish boundaries, and be prepared to make tough choices if necessary. In the end, your role as a loving and protective parent will guide you through this difficult situation, ensuring a healthier and happier future for your family.



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