Grandma may not know it, but her overbearing ways can cause problems.

How to Tell Grandma to Stop Smothering Your Child

by Melissa Willets

Grandma may have the best of intentions with her endless doting, but you feel that she is smothering your little one. Remember, this is your child and you set the boundaries. Still, be careful in how you approach chatting about Grandma's relationship with her grandchild. You can get her to take a step back without hurting her feelings.

Be Gentle

By gently addressing Grandma's fears, you may encourage her to let up on smothering behavior. Say you are crossing the street with your son and his grandmother. She is concerned, repeating that he should be careful and he must hold hands. Try gently reminding Grandma that you have discussed traffic safety with your son. "He knows what to do, don't worry."

Provide Rationale

On visits, Grandma ties your daughter's shoes, fixes her snack and cleans up after her. At your home, your daughter is expected to be much more independent. You will want to have a talk with Grandma about allowing the little girl to do more on her own. The article "Nine Steps to More Effective Parenting" on the KidsHealth website points out that it is important for all caregivers to provide consistency, especially when it comes to managing a child's expectations. Amy Goyer, writing for AARP, also notes that grandparents should do their best to respect the parents' rules. Still, try making light of the situation when you discuss it with her. "I'd hate for little Suzie to come home and refuse to clean up after herself because Grandma does it for her!"

Be Firm

Yes, you want to be nice about telling her to stop smothering her grandchild, but you must also be firm. For example, Grandma is fixing your son's hair, insisting on another kiss and fiddling with the collar of his shirt. Try saying this with conviction: "Give him some space." In the same breath, however, you can offer validation. "I know you love him so much!" It may take some time, but after several firm reminders, she'll get the point.

Do Nothing

You may find that your child will do the dirty work for you when it comes to getting Grandma to cut out her smothering ways. The fifth time she pulls your daughter into her lap, your daughter may be the one to put the kibosh on it. "Grandma, stop!" You can also back the little girl up by explaining that "she just wants to do her own thing."

About the Author

Melissa Willets has been writing about parenting, pregnancy and "all things mom" since 2009. She has contributed to many websites, including and

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