Most grandparents love to spoil their grandkids, but that largess can easily stir up drama when parents start feeling like grandma and grandpa are going overboard.
That’s the situation a mom on Reddit found herself in when her mother bought her daughter an expensive gift and made the daughter swear not to tell her mom.
The Redditor, who goes by dNi005 on the site, wasn’t sure about how she handled the conflict, so she went to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit for input.
The Original Poster (OP) asked:
“AITA for asking my mom not to spoil my kids?”
“A bit of context: my mom is the ultimate grandma. She LOVES her grand daughters more than life itself and they think she’s the best person to walk this earth.”
“I also have a 14 year old step son who she has a hard time connecting because he’s a moody teen and grunts to communicate.”
“We recently bought a large home with a finished basement suite so we asked if she wanted to move in with us. She jumped at the chance and found some renters for her home.”
“When she lived on her own and the girls would visit, I’d let it slide when she spoiled them. After all, kids are supposed to be spoiled at grandmas house. Now that she lives with us and they see her daily, I’ve asked that she be more selective about spoiling them (Save big gifts for birthdays or Xmas, get them to earn money so they can buy themselves a treat, etc).”
“At the very least, spoil them all equally because now that we’re in the same house, my son sees the way the girls get spoiled. When she wants to make it ‘even’ she sends him a $20 e-transfer and calls it a day. I’ve suggested that she take them all out for ice cream or spend a bit of time with him too.”
“She has tried to connect but doesn’t go much further when he gives her short answers to her questions (he’s 14! I have to push a bit but he comes out of the shell when he knows someone’s interested in what he has to say).”
“Anyways, yesterday my daughter let it slip that my mom had bought her new wireless headphones for when she’s watching videos on her iPad. My mom looked like a deer in headlights when my daughter mentioned it and said ‘Lincoln can use them when he visits me too!’ (They are pink with cat ears 🙄). Later, while putting my daughter to bed, she told me her grandma had told her to keep it a secret.”
“I tried to talk to my mom about it and explained that it’s inappropriate for any adult to ask a child to keep secrets from their parents and I’m not comfortable with the deception. Her response was ‘I thought you’d be upset and it’s just a little secret so it’s no big deal’.”
“I’m thinking I need to limit the time my girls spend downstairs with their grandma until she can understand how harmful lying and secret keeping can be …. ESPECIALLY if you normalize lying about small things.”
“My mom thinks I’m being extra … my hubby hates the lying more than I do … and I just want my mom to try to see things from my view. At the very least, respect the rules I’ve set out for my kids in my home.”
People on Reddit were then asked to evaluate who was in the wrong in this conflict using the following acronyms:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
And most of them were firmly on OP’s side, and found Grandma’s antics inappropriate.
“NTA. The keeping secrets needs to stop immediately. If she can’t do more than send step-grandson $20, she needs to work on that. Perhaps if she gave him a bit more attention and tried as hard as she tries with the girls, the relationship would warm up.”
“Maybe she needs to move back to her house. The secret thing really bugs me.” —Malachite_Macchiato
“Kids should never be told to keep secrets from their parents. If the wrong person asks this of kids, it can go really bad for the kids.” —birdiepie2020
“THIS. NTA – spoiling is one thing, subverting your parenting (secrets) is another. She might remember (if any of her kids were boys) what they (we!) are like at that age, and help draw – not pull – him out. On gifting, money or value doesn’t have to be “equal”, but should at least be proportional.” —Dear_Analysis_5116
“The secret thing is so dangerous. Of course it’s Disrespectful but what if your child is in the position when some creep is grooming them and telling them It’s just a secret. Secrets are already normalized because they have them with grandma and end up being abused. NTA I’d tell grandma to give her renters notice and hoof it back home.” —coconutville
“The only secrets any adult should ever ask a child to keep are those in the context of eventually being a (good) surprise. This distinction should be taught early and often.”
“Good secret : Dont tell mommy we bought her (secret thing) for her bday!”
“Bad secret : Never tell anyone about this touching game that we play, or you’ll need in trouble.”
“Kids are perfectly able to learn to differentiate between the two. One is keeping quiet so that there can be a fun and happy surprise later. The other is keeping quiet about something bad under threat of punishment.”
“Even in this case where the secret the child is being asked to keep is relatively benign, any precedent an adult sets in convincing a kid to keep secrets from their parents is bad news and needs to be nipped in the bud immediately. Grandma should move back to her own place is she can’t or won’t abide by this very reasonable request.” —jadiseoc
Hopefully this family can find a way to have appropriate boundaries while living in the same house together.