Why we need to change the way we talk about loving our grandchildren
“Spoil them and send them home!”
How many times have you heard grandparents use that phrase? It’s on coffee mugs and T-shirts and memes all over the internet. Perhaps you’ve even said it! After all, one of the benefits of having grandchildren is that you aren’t in charge of all the hard parts of raising them. There is a gleeful freedom in knowing that you can concentrate on having fun with them without having to deal with the consequences.
During a recent conversation about “Grandparent Love” on the podcast, The Grand Life, I talked with Emily Morgan and Kerry Byrne about the idea of spoiling our grandchildren. We all agreed the phrase needs to go!
First, let’s just look at the word spoil. Can you think of anything else we would declare we want to spoil? We don’t set out to spoil our children, or our vacation, or our new carpet. No one wants to be around someone who spoils the ending, the mood or the surprise. We don’t like it when someone spoils a joke, or our view, or an important occasion. Spoiling something is not an admirable goal! The definition of the word is very clear:
Obviously, we don’t really mean we want to diminish or harm our grandchildren. We mean we want to indulge them, pamper them, treat them like the special little people they are. This leads to my second objection to the idea of spoiling our grands and then sending them home: I don’t want to make my kids’ job as parents any harder than it already is. While we all want our grandkids to know how much we love them, there are ways to show them that without overindulging them or being more lenient than their parents.
What your grandchildren want most from you is your time and attention, and you can make them feel cherished without spoiling them at all. Instead of buying them more toys, play with them. Instead of sneaking them extra cookies, let them help you make dinner. Talk to them, send them mail, ask them about their likes and dislikes, give them your undivided attention, be there for them. You’ll find it far more rewarding than spoiling them.
What do you think? Is there a case to be made for spoiling grandchildren?