Limits, food and screens tend to be the axes of the main conflicts that arise between grandparents and parents, with grandchildren in the middle. That’s where lies, secrets and misunderstandings appear. There are phrases that—perhaps out of habit—grandfathers and grandmothers may have among their usual comments or resources, but that from today’s prism may have been out of date or put boys and girls, and perhaps also their parents, in an uncomfortable place. and mothers.

Sofía Lewicki, perinatal psychologist and parenting specialist, comments on some of the most common comments.

Allowing them to eat more sweets than usual or enjoy more cartoon time: the idea of ​​total permissiveness associated with grandparents is still in force. According to Sofía Lewicki, this is based on the deep-rooted belief of “romantic grandparenthood,” which provides the framework for the limits established daily by parents to blur. The popular belief that “grandparents are there to consent, while parents should set limits” can be harmful, especially when grandparents are actively involved in parenting, as it can generate family imbalances and confusion in children.

The psychologist clarifies that although grandparents do not necessarily have to act in the same way as parents, it is essential to respect the limits and main values ​​to maintain coherence between adults and provide harmony and security to children. She stressed that “grandparenthood should not become a manual of what can and cannot be done; You should be able to talk about it with your parents,” while she highlighted the issue of generational differences that must be understood and contemplated.

The other typical phrase that grandparents often repeat is “your mom/dad doesn’t want it”: they don’t want you to eat cookies, go to bed late, play video games… It works as a quick argument to support a decision without subjecting it to discussion. As caregivers of children, it is important to be able to take charge of these limits and support the decision through explanations about the fact in question, and not through an unappealable guideline.

However, the psychologist highlighted the importance of dialogue and trust, since there may be multiple factors why at a given moment the grandparents (or the person in charge of caring for the children) may decide to “transgress.” that rule for some reason, for example, because she is tired and needs the kids to watch some TV for that.

It is key to “generate agreements between what we expect and what grandparents can and want. It is also important that grandparents can talk and express their needs: ‘I’m very tired’, ‘today I would like to make another plan’, ‘the truth is that I don’t know how to set a limit, I need you to help me’. That is, putting on the table what the difficulties are.”

Conditioning a gift or prize on a kiss or a hug in the style of “if you give me a kiss, I’ll give you a candy” is another out-of-date practice. “Rewards and punishments” of this type convey to boys and girls not only that they must always listen to what they are told, but that they cannot decide about their own body.

Therefore, when boys refuse, for example, to greet with a kiss, it is recommended not to force them, since it is about their privacy. Respecting them, respecting their decisions and not putting labels on them will help them in their growth.

Encouraging grandchildren (and any child) to hide any type of information from their parents is not only confusing for them, but harmful, as it introduces lies into their daily lives. Phrases like “it’s our little secret”, “you don’t have to tell mom and dad” or “don’t let them find out” are examples of this.

“This type of secret is extremely harmful to children for several reasons: mainly, naturalizing secrets between adults and children can be a risk factor for their safety or well-being, in the face of any type of abuse, both physical and emotional,” he comments. the author of So Bad Yes We Go Out. How to stop educating to start raising (Planet).

“It may seem exaggerated, but if primary caregivers encourage secrets, children learn that this is natural; and this can lead to children being exposed to covering up any type of abusive behavior on the part of adults, generating anxiety, stress and feelings of guilt. “Children don’t have to be worried about keeping a secret that an adult has encouraged.”

And Sofía (@soymamaypsicologa) highlights the secrets: “As much as the ideal and healthiest thing is not to encourage them, the truth is that it is a very widespread and established practice. That is why it is very important that primary caregivers work with children (from when they are babies) to maintain a bond of trust, free of threats and punishments, based on respect for themselves and for others, for their body and for their be everything. Fostering a bond of dialogue and trust with our children is one of the best gifts we can give them and ourselves.”

Of course, to avoid misinterpretations, the psychologist highlighted: “We are not saying that grandparents have to do things exactly the same way as parents, since each one will have their own style. But the limits and main values ​​must be respected to generate coherence on the part of adults, and harmony and security in children.”

Asked about conflicts between parents and grandparents, parenting psychologist Deborah Bellota comments that “when we become parents for the first time, our own childhood is replayed for us. In my role as a mother, memories, affections or emotions arise about how I was raised by my mother and also in my own role as a mother, memories and emotions arise that are linked to how my mother treated me when I was little.

To avoid this type of dispute (or at least, its escalation), there is no more secret than dialogue. The psychologist (on Instagram, @maternidad_crianza_familia) highlighted that it is important to make it clear that it will always be each father and/or mother who sets the parenting guidelines for her child.

And he adds: “I evaluate, investigate and define the way I am going to parent together with my partner, together with the father or mother of our children. “Grandparents must occupy the role of grandparents, which has nothing to do with parenting, but with support from the parents themselves.”