Some grandmas are not cheerful influences on your toddlers.

How to Deal With a Rude Grandma

by Diane Steinbach

Not everyone is blessed to have a cookie-baking, park-taking, greeting-card-perfect grandmother for their kids. Some grandma’s get their cookies at the dollar store and consider the dog-track a “dog-park.” Toddler-tolerant grandmas are not guaranteed either, and if the grandma in your family circle is more likely to be drinking a six-pack than stuffing a turkey, chances are her demeanor around your kids might not be picture-perfect either. Having a rude grandma is an awkward predicament to deal with, but setting boundaries and being prepared can take the edge off.

Have a plan. Grandma has been ill-mannered for a while, no doubt, so be prepared for the topics that usually give her fodder for rudeness and avoid them. Keep your toddlers out of earshot if Grandma tends to swear at the TV or becomes impolite when a certain family member shows up for dinner.

Prepare your tot. If Grandma makes rude comments to your tot, such as remarks about your little one’s weight or appearance, tell your child ahead of time that Grandma doesn’t always say what she really means. Tell your kids that they should not let Grandma hurt their feelings and to treat Grandma kindly anyway. If you use Grandma’s rudeness as an opportunity to teach compassion and understanding to your kids, you can take the sting out of Grandma’s remarks and make the day more meaningful.

Be patient. Although Grandma’s rudeness can be frustrating and her influence on your children sometimes negative, Grandma’s rudeness could be a result of confusion. As people age, health issues such as diabetes or dementia can create confusion or lowering of inhibitions, which will allow an elderly family member to make comments they would not normally make. Keep this in mind and try to gently redirect conversations to help control verbal outbursts you don’t approve of.

Talk to Grandma about what is proper and not proper for your toddlers to be exposed to. You might be more sensitive to topics and word choices that your grandmother used casually in her era, so set some boundaries and make clear your restrictions on what you deem fit for your children to be exposed to. Once you have set the rules, ask that Grandma respect your wishes when she is in contact with your kids.

Limit contact with a rude grandmother if her behavior seems to negatively affect your toddler’s self-esteem or attitude toward other family members. Young children mimic behavior, and if your tots begin to mirror Grandma’s impolite remarks and posturing toward adults in the family or toward other people, it’s time to limit contact with Grandma. Go over unsatisfactory exchanges with Grandma and illustrate how they are examples of harmful behavior so that your children do not copy the behavior.


  • Get other family members to help. Have others help divert Grandma from troublesome topics of conversation or help talk to Grandma about her rudeness.

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