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Why do kids behave better for their grandparents?

If you’ve found yourself asking that question, or its companion,

“Why does my child behave for everyone but me?”

— don’t worry! You’re definitely not alone. This struggle is as old as time. Picture the following scenario:

Raising children and living in what is practically a fraternity house is exhausting, so you decide to send your kids to their grandparents’ house so you can catch a desperately needed break. The grandparents later return them to you, singing the praises of your children’s behavior. The grandparents then leave your house and, within five minutes (usually less), those darling angels morph back into the gremlins you always knew they were. What gives?

Well, if you’re thinking about blaming yourself, you can go ahead and stop that right now. This is not your fault.

Were the grandparents lying about the kids’ behavior? No, it’s not that either. Your children really were perfect angels for their grandparents.

Here’s why:

1. In the words of Wesley from The Princess Bride, “As you wish.”

Your kids didn’t hear the word “no” the entire time they were gone. All your children want to watch a different movie? No problem. There are multiple televisions at the grandparents’ house and they have no qualms about playing a different cartoon on each of them.

Kids can’t agree where to go to eat? Problem solved! Lunch at Mom Heaven Chick-fil-A and Dinner at McDonald’s. And if you have three kids? “Second Dinner” wherever the third would like.

2. All the screens.

At well-child visits, my doctors ask about how much we are limiting screen time (just in case we weren’t already feeling guilty enough about it on our own). Meanwhile, at Casa Grandparents, the kids can have all the TV, all the Netflix, all the iPads. All. Of. It.

My dad’s “work iPad” had the Thomas the Train and Disney Jr. apps downloaded onto it about 2.5 seconds after it was issued to him. My youngest will probably be able to type in the passcodes to all four grandparents’ iEverythings before he can even say his own name.

Cartoon kids being angels with their grandparents
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3. To the tune of LMFAO’s Shots — “Snacks Snacks Snacks Snacks Snacks Snacks, Everybody!”

Meal time is only kind of a thing at the grandparents’ house. Sure, if the kids feel like eating dinner, they’ll have it. But if not? Grandparents will just feed them all the snacks their little hearts desire. And none of that healthy stuff either. We’re talking high fructose-GMO-laden-prepackaged-preservative-laced crapola.

Even our baby, who only knows five words, starts making a special tongue-clicking sound at the grandparents’ house, which is code for “feed me junk food.”

4. Undivided attention.

You pay attention to your kids, of course, but you also have responsibilities. If you drop everything and cater to their every whim all day, every day, your house will soon spiral into a (more) filthy hellhole with uncooked meals and unpaid bills.

Not so for the grandparents. They will follow your kids around like personal butlers of amusement, fighting all the nerf battles, playing all the board games, and doing all the crafts. Your children will believe the world revolves around them because, while they’re with the grandparents, it does.

And if your children have great-grandparents? Game over. Great grandparents can literally do whatever the eff they want because, now that they’re in their 80s or 90s, they’ve earned it.

Great grandparents may observe a sugar-free, salt-free, taste-free diet 99% of the time, but as soon as they know your kids are on the way, they will start cranking out all the good stuff. They can feed your children ice cream and chocolate from dusk ‘til dawn and you will shut up and like it.

If these circumstances are getting you down, just remember that it really is a blessing to have this many people who love your kids. Besides, if you survive the next thirty-ish years, you may just have grandchildren of your own to spoil rotten and then return. Payback’s a beeyatch.

Share this post with your favorite grandparent!


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kid being an angel for grandparents while eating cake
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  1. This ia so true! When they are with their Grandparents, kids get to do all the things we won’t let them do!

  2. This made me laugh out loud. This is so us! We joke that we need some time to decompress and get back to the normal after a weekend with the grandparents! It’s exactly what you say — undivided attention, ALL the screen time, and the as you wish! And my mom literally allowed my son to eat a piece of cake for breakfast the last time……

    1. Hi Mandy,

      Bahaha, I snorted when I read the cake for breakfast part. We recently went away for our anniversary (which is what prompted this post) and there were twelve donuts at my parents house. 52 hours later, when we returned, there was one donut remaining. My Dad claimed he ate most of them but…. well, the kids tell a different story. We refer to it around here as the “grandparent hangover.”


  3. This is a great post! And very true about the grandparents giving into whatever the children want. We will probably do the same with our grandchildren.

    1. Hi Cindy,

      Thank you so much! Yes, grandparents are total spoilers. I recently told the hubby that I am tired of parenting our kids. From here on, I would like to start grandparenting them instead. How can we make this happen?!


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