Should grandparents discipline grandchildren?

What's a grandparent to do? Source: Getty

Grandparents love spoiling their grandchildren, but at some point a grandchild will misbehave with no parent in sight, so do you discipline? It’s a question that everyone has an answer for, but what’s right?

In most cases, parents are unlikely to have a problem with how you discipline their child if you’re using their methods, especially if their child’s safety is at risk, and if you’re lucky, you’ll also have similar values (since you raised them!).  

A user on the online forum Mothering said: “I think grandparents should be a part of their grandchildren’s lives, but should only involve themselves with discipline if it’s okay with the parents and in a fashion similar to what the parents are doing.” Another added: “If I’m right there and handling it, they have no role in discipline. We have a big ‘village’ and my kids absolutely can be disciplined by friends or family if I’m not there.”

And some parents also think it’s OK because you’re doing them a favour by looking after their children. But what do you do if your views on discipline aren’t the same?

It’s inevitable – there will be times that you don’t agree with the way your children are bringing up their kids, whether it’s what they eat or what time they go to bed. However, according to Ruth Nemzoff, the author of Don’t Bite Your Tongue: How to Foster Rewarding Relationships with Your Adult Children, parents are in charge when it comes to their children, so in most cases, grandparents should defer to them, even if their parenting approach is different.

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On the other hand, some grandparents believe that children nowadays need more discipline. A recent study has found that three in five grandparents believe that today’s parenting styles are worse than when they were raising their own children. 

In fact, The Australian Seniors Series: Raising Modern Australia survey details some very interesting results. More than half of the 1,000 grandparents surveyed believe that their grandkids are going to be less capable, self-sufficient, and resilient adults than their parents. And what about smacking? Many believe that parents should go back to smacking their children when they’ve done something wrong, but can a grandparent?

According to some experts, hitting teaches children to be violent, and ultimately shows that it’s okay to vent your anger in a physical way.  One user wrote on online forum Mouths of Mums: “It is not ok for anyone to smack a child. It is especially not ok for a grandparent to smack a child.”

What do you think? Should grandparents discipline grandchildren?