Nearly half of parents disagree with grandparents on the issue of child rearing, according to a US poll. Tensions that can harm family relationships.

It is well known that holidays with grandparents are often synonymous with relaxed rules regarding bedtime or meal times, the content of the plate or the time spent in front of the television. However, grandparents obviously have every interest in not straying too far from the framework set by parents, at the risk of seeing their grandchildren less.

In any case, this is what an American poll, conducted by C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, a pediatric hospital in Michigan (United States), indicates. Conducted in January-February 2020 with 2,016 parents of at least one child under the age of 18, representative of the American population, it reveals that nearly half of those polled report disagreements with one or more grandparents in about the education of their children.

Most parents surveyed (89%) say that their child sees at least one grandparent often or occasionally. Among these parents, 6% report major disagreements and 37% minor disagreements with one or more grandparents about educational choices. And 15% of parents say that disagreements negatively affect their child's relationship with their grandparents.

In detail, 40% of the parents surveyed indicate that disagreements arise because the grandparents are too lenient with the child, 14% say that they are on the contrary too harsh; and 46% say the disagreements stem from the two cases, with grandparents sometimes too lenient and sometimes too harsh. The most common disagreements are:

discipline (57%),
meals or snacks (44%);
time spent in front of a television or screen (36%).

Other differences concern behaviors and attitudes (27%), health / safety (25%), unequal treatment of grandchildren (22%), bedtime (21%), and photo sharing or information on social networks (10%).

These disagreements between parents and grandparents unfortunately translate into action, since 15% of parents surveyed, or nearly one in seven, limit the length of time their child sees some of his or her grandparents. Among parents who asked a grandparent to respect and apply more parental educational choices, 17% say the grandparent refused their request. Parents are then more inclined to limit the length of time their child stays with their grandparents, since they refuse to comply with parental guidelines.

In view of these results, the researchers believe that educational disagreements between parents and grandparents can lastingly harm their relationships, and even the relationship between grandpa-grandma and their grandchildren.

Some disagreements could be explained by intergenerational differences, says Sarah Clark, director of the Mott Poll Polling Institute. Grandparents, for example, may think that the way they functioned as a parent in their day was right. New data and guidance regarding the health or safety of the child can also lead to disagreements. We think, for example, of the fact that it is now advisable to put a baby on its back to limit the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or to use a car seat suitable for the size and weight of the child in the car.

“These results indicate that grandparents should strive to understand and comply with parental requests to be more consistent with parental choices - not only to support parents in the difficult task of raising children, but also to avoid an escalation of conflicts to the point of risking losing precious time with their grandchildren, ”concluded Sarah Clark.