No one is perfect but toxic relationships need to be addressed even if it has to do with older family members.
When you think of a relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild, you hope for lots of love, laughter, sweetness, and story-telling; and it can be a strong and special kind of bond. This even lays the foundation for a healthy, happy, and self-assured child as they step into adulthood. However, this may not be the case always as some grandparents can be toxic and detrimental to your child's happiness (and yours!). While it would be easier to walk away from a toxic partner, with family members it's a whole another ball game. If the toxic family member refuses to acknowledge their behavior, even after repeated discussions, then it would be wise to keep a distance giving you and your child peace of mind. In case you are unsure, here are some toxic traits that can be damaging to your child's well-being.
1. They are overly critical and tell your kids hurtful things
It's one thing to offer kind words of wisdom, and quite another to be judgemental and unnecessarily critical. Toxic grandparents believe that criticizing a child can help them become "better." However, nothing can be further from the truth, as we know all too well: words can cut deep and leave a lasting scar on your soul. Hurtful words can affect children deeply and can affect their mental health, and have self-esteem issues which could be carried well into adulthood.
2. They keep interfering with your decisions as a parent
Parenting differs from generation to generation, and that's okay. Your relationship with your kids is an individual one. Whether you are disciplining your child or giving them words of encouragement if your parents or in-laws step in and offer unsolicited advice and dominate the conversation and decisions you've made, that's not a healthy environment for your child. This is because they will receive mixed messages leaving them conflicted, confused, and perhaps defiant.
3. They play favorites with their grandchildren
While it's one thing to bond with your grandchildren, it's quite another comparing and playing favorites with them. Whether your child is favored or not, statements like "you're the golden child" or "you're the black sheep" is unnecessary and detrimental to your kids' mental health and those around them leading to resentment. The less-favored child at some point will begin to sense this. In some cases, it could just be a simple misunderstanding, but if you have sensed the same, do not minimize your child's feelings. This can be rectified by a family meeting where you can address the issue at hand gently. However, if they react defensively, it would be best to consider allowing minimum spending time with their grandchildren.
4. They make you feel guilty so that they can manipulate you
Grandparents sure have a way of pushing your buttons even when you are an adult with a family of your own. They do this so that they can have their way with things. One common phrase a toxic grandparent often say is: "I sacrificed so much for you," or "If I don't get a hug or a kiss, you don't love me."As difficult as it may be, do not fall for this form of guilt-tripping. When a person makes you feel like you "owe" them something, it's time to think again. If something is bothering them they should be able to express it to you in a healthier way.
5. They undermine you as a parent
Damn if you, and damn if you don't. There's no winning with toxic grandparents. Therefore, if they constantly belittle and make you feel small for the things you do and say, it's because they don't respect boundaries that you have established in your house, and look to undermine it leading to complete chaos. The only way to handle this is to stand your ground firmly.
6. They deny having ever made mistakes as a parent themselves
It takes an emotionally mature person to admit that they're wrong. When you feel something they did hurt or upset you they immediately get defensive. They say they never did that or that they don't remember the incident. They can never accept their mistakes. They make you feel like you are overreacting. Always remember you have a right to say what you feel and that your feelings are valid.
7. They're always playing the victim
These grandparents use sympathy as a manipulative tool to get their way. Whenever they feel confronted they are quick to play the victim. They can make you feel guilty and selfish and will intentionally remind you that they are doing so much for your kids and how you should appreciate them for it.
If you feel like you can't deal with them anymore remember to thoroughly think things through and make sure that the choice you’re making is the best for your kids. Speak to a professional therapist or counselor if needed to help give you clarity.