Grandparents and Gifts: How to End the Power Struggle Once and For All

Grandma Baby and Frist Birthdays

Are your parents and in-laws spoiling your kids with too many toys? Or perhaps they are ignoring your values and preferences when choosing gifts for their grandchildren. While family relationships do involve some compromise, it’s easy to understand why parents can become frustrated and angry when their wishes are disregarded.

The following suggestions can help you reach a happy compromise with your child’s grandparents (and aunties and uncles, too!) so that you can focus on spending time together as a family instead of feeling resentful.

  1. Express you gratitude for what they are trying to do. Even if you suspect that their motivations are not exactly pure, thank them for trying to show love to your child and emphasize that you value the relationship between grandparents and grandchild. Everyone wants to feel appreciated and acknowledged and this will start the conversation off on the right note.
  2. Share your reasons why you wish for a change in the amount or kinds of toys that are given to your child. Look for positive ways to make your points. For example, you can talk about how your child becomes overwhelmed by too many toys all at once and that one or two well-chosen toys will make a bigger impact.
  3. Encourage them to share their feelings, too. Most people are far more willing to compromise once they feel that they’ve been heard. Chances are, their reasons for going overboard are very understandable. Hearing them can help you reach some common ground and help you work together to find a solution that works for everyone.
  4. Once you’ve heard them out, brainstorm with them to come up with ideas for how to handle gift giving in the future. Be creative and be ready with solutions. For example, you could suggest that instead of a lot of flashy toys under the tree, your family would really love a membership to the zoo so that you can spend time together all year round, grandparents included. Or that instead of toy guns, your little boy would love a superhero cape or building set. Maybe instead of princess everything, they could give your little girl a set of blocks so that she can build her own castles.
  5. Keep an open mind and be prepared to make concessions of your own. It’s okay to draw lines in the sand over toys that are dangerous or completely inappropriate, but don’t sweat the small stuff too much. You’ll be much happier if you pick your battles and are willing to compromise a bit.

Learn to let go of the things that you can’t control and look for ways to mitigate the effects once the grandparents have gone home. For example, you can rotate the toys to keep things manageable or suggest that some stay at the grandparents house so that your child will have things to play with on visits.

Co-authors Jacob and Carol Maslow enjoy sharing their experience and expertise on children, toys and the importance of play. In addition to raising five young children, Carol works as a therapist specializing in helping developmentally delayed preschoolers integrate with their classmates. Jacob works at Today’s Concept, where parents can find classic toys, included the highly regarded Melissa and Doug brand.


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1 Comment

Carl Holland says:

My parents have been good about talking to me about what gifts they have given my kids first. They’re better off financially than I, so they’ve usually provided the more expensive items. Fortunately gifts for my kids have never been an issue in my family.

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08 Oct 11 @ 10pm

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