For most mums and dads our parents, our children's grandparents, are an essential part of our children's upbringing, providing extra dollops of love and childcare at an extremely reasonable rate. We couldn't imagine life without their older helping hands. However having someone else intimately involved with your little ones' care, someone who also happens to have spent the first 18 years of your life telling you what to do, has its downsides....
Here are 10:
1. Quiet disapproval
Most grandparents aren't silly enough to actually tell you how to bring up your kids. Instead they employ subtle methods including the Deep Intake of Breath, the Exchange of Glances or the Hushed Tut to register their disapproval when your child daubs Bolognese on their kitchen wall.
Which is a lot more annoying than getting to the point and screaming "when will you discipline that child?" At least the epic, and possibly bloody, argument that follows would clear the air.
2. Over the top praise
Of course when your child goes to stay at Granny and Gramps' without you they will behave impeccably, at least that's what the olds will tell you.
Looking after your child will be nothing short of a Zen experience, despite the fact that the same child may have been doing a passable impression of a psychopath at home.
3. The questions, oh the questions
"What time will he go down?" "Why isn't she hungry?" "Is he tired?" "Do you think she'll eat broccoli for dinner next Tuesday?" Please stop with the questions.
Children are irrational creatures, which makes them utterly impossible to predict or comprehend. Who knows why she's in a mood? It could be she needs a drink or that she doesn't own a giant pink balloon shaped like a rhinoceros.
4. Taking charge, without permission
When it comes to parenting your mum and dad have been there and done it, which means in most situations they think they know best. Perhaps they do. But when they wake your sleeping cherub from a nap without asking "otherwise they'll be up all night" – as if you have no idea about your toddler's sleeping patterns – or tell you it's "too cold" to take the baby for a walk on a slightly chilly spring day, you may feel an urge to shout "I'LL DO WHAT I WANT WITH MY CHILD".
Obviously when your kids have children you'll treat them in exactly the same way. Because you do know best.
5. The constant fear
At a certain age you stop hoping for the best and start believing everything is a potential death trap. According to Granny if your child happens to wander into the kitchen unsupervised he'll climb into the cooker, shut the door and turn it to gas mark 5 before anybody has had a chance to react. And letting him stand under a shelf? Are you some kind of madman? Who knows if it's been correctly fixed to the wall, "after all, Auntie Joyce was once crushed by a badly hung mirror".
6. Food wars
You spend weeks teaching your child that chocolate is a treat to be enjoyed on very special occasions and finally they've learnt to stop asking for it at two-minute intervals. Then they spend a night or two at Grandpa and Grandma's where the stuff is on tap – they actually bathe them in it – and all your good work turns to sugary dust.
On the other hand when you feed them an unhealthy snack you're told it's the slippery slope to obesity and a root canal procedure.
7. "In our day..."
OK, so your child probably does spend a little too much time intensely staring at iPads, laptops and smart phones but was it really better in your parents' day? Yes they may have only watched 30 minutes of TV a week and filled the rest of their time frolicking in bucolic fields. But that 30 minutes of TV often involved a sadistic cartoon cat and his equally twisted mouse nemesis attempting to decapitate/electrocute/maim each other. That's not educational, at least not in a good way.
Today's child may not know what a real tree looks like but he's more likely to create the next tech giant and less likely to want to nail a cat's paws to the floor.
8. Continuous cleaning
Since you left the nest your parents have become unaccustomed to sharing their home with little people who can't do anything without splattering some form of colourful liquid across a room. But following your child around with a handful of wet wipes and Detox spray really takes the fun out of messy play.
9. Comparing and contrasting
When you have a child you'll find out exactly what your parents thought of you as a nipper. "He's so dramatic, just like his mother." "Oooo she's as stubborn as her father." "Isn't she clever? You didn't master going for a poo on your own until you were seven." They're basically saying you were the child from hell.
10. Terrible clothes
Nobody wants to seem ungrateful but sometimes you wonder what comes over your parents when they go into the kids' section. They must know you'd never put your child in velour dungarees or a baby gro sporting a piece of Wildean wit such as: "If you think I'm cute you should see my sister". Yet they still buy it and expect your child to wear it. Luckily kids grow out of things very quickly.
Having said all that, if you wouldn't mind babysitting next weekend that would be great.
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