Hi, I am grandmother to a rather precocious granddaughter who has everything she could possibly need and more! I grew up in a world where we looked after our possessions and did not squander or waste what we had. I am at a loss how to treat Victoria, my granddaughter. I love her dearly but I believe my son and daughter in law may be making a big mistake indulging Victoria as they do. I'm not sure what would be the right way to deal with this. Suggestions please!
nikjoyce and Emi have answered one possible interpretation of your question ("I don't know how to deal with giving presents to a granddaughter who already has more than enough and probably won't even care about extra stuff"), so I thought I'd take a shot at the other ("I don't know how to handle my granddaughter's upbringing, I'm scared she's going to turn into an egocentric consumerist who won't be able to handle any frustration later in life.")
Frankly, there's not a great deal you will be able to do to change how your son and daughter-in-law are bringing up their child. Even if they are aware of your concerns, they may not (both) agree with them, and even then, they may not (both) be able to change (see the overcompensation comments on Emi's answer).
You could try broaching the subject with them (both of them, at the same time) very tactfully, and couching it in terms of your worries about your granddaughter, not about their bad parenting. (I don't know anything about your family dynamics, but if you overstep the mark, you may find yourself on the receiving end of some acerbic remarks about your parenting!)
That done, I think that you are free to talk directly to your granddaughter. Not to tell her that her parents are wrong, nor to tell her she is spoilt, nor to tell her she won't be getting a present from you because she's already got too many. Don't tell her how lucky she is (which would probably be lying, as you apparently don't think she really is lucky).
In fact, don't talk about her at all. Talk about you; tell her how things were back in your day; tell her about how you only ever got two presents a year, how excited you were at Christmas and your birthday; tell her about some of the presents that you still remember. Tell her about the excitement of saving up and making presents for others.
Finally, don't worry too much. I suspect that children are often much less dependent on 'stuff' than both their doting parents and their horrified grandparents believe. My daughters have way too much of everything, and watch too much TV to my liking; but recently we were on holiday with no TV, and hardly any toys. They never once asked about TV, and improvised games and toys out of stones and sticks, did painting, reading, etc... Vive les vacances!
Sorry, I'm rambling. The short version:
Stop worrying about the stuff, and concentrate on transmitting your love and passion for the things you think are important in life: relationships, learning, curiosity, beauty, the great outdoors...
answered 11 Aug '11, 08:40
I think every parent is different in how they raise their children and every child is different in how they react to possessions. Our children have tons of toys. We have 3 so every Christmas and birthday adds to already abundant amount we have. They really don't care for most of their toys. They do have favourites that they take care of but the rest just sit there.
Perhaps if your granddaughter does not value her possessions then find something she does value like a trip to the zoo or small treats and use those things to show her your love. My oldest daughter (almost 3 years) loves to 'help grandma' by helping with dishes or cooking and it is special time they spend together.
If you do want her to learn to treat something special then maybe getting her something like a glass doll that will break if she mistreats it would be a good option. And be sure to explain to her when you give it to her how special it is and that you expect her to take good care of it.
answered 07 Aug '11, 17:04
Although nikjoyce provides a pretty comprehensive and detailed answer, I would also like to add a couple of comments that I think may help too.
Are there any reasons that may be causing your son and daughter in law to over indulge their child?
Does your son and daughter in law both work full time and maybe feel guilty about doing so? so could it be their way of showing their love by buying her so much stuff...( this is something that I insisted I wouldn't do when I became a parent but it is easier said than done )
Is this 'being given everything' contributed to by other family members? With that I mean the other set of grandparents, aunts uncles and older cousins
How many children are there in the family? Is your granddaughter the first grandchild in the entire family? If so could she have just become used to getting what she wants in a matter of fact manner
You don't mention the age of your grand-child. That is also very important because if is she is at an age where you can discuss and talk about things, you may stand a good chance of creating a long lasting bond through activities like gardening, baking, trips to a zoo or a park. Other activities like making scrapbooks and collecting stones and shells then personalizing them sway her attention away from the other 'material' things' long enough for her to slowly start becoming interested in things. For example my husband purchased a Kindle for me last year and I haven't had the time to buy a cover for it. I found a bubble pack envelope which the kindle fits into perfectly and I asked my daughter if she would decorate for me with drawings and stickers of her choice. She is 7 and it has put a smile on her, she is still at it now as I type.
On a final note, if possible discuss how you feel with your son and daughter in law. Again this is one of those topics that varies from family to family but I would still encourage dialogue.
Usually (speaking from my own personal experience) as parents I think that we just want to show our kids that we love them constantly and we do it in many ways, if we feel we have spent too much time at work we may try and make up for it somehow, and maybe...... sometimes our own parents can help us see what we are doing right or wrong too, if they word it in a way that doesn't undermine us and maybe even first praise us for being good parents, prior to adding their observations.
Note: I have extended the answer to try and explain better what I was trying to say regarding over compensation