(Vernal, UT. U.S.A.)
My husband and I have 3 children; 4,2, and a six month old. I try and keep my kids as healthy as possible and I don't feed them added sugars, candy, etc. They are happy and well adjusted children. Soda pop is a definite "no no" in our home. My in-laws know we don't want them drinking pop and eating candy. I make them good tasting treats but they don't have a lot of sugar in them. They love them. My father-in-law gives them soda behind my back. My 4 year old told me that Papa gives him pop and I confronted him kindly about it. Papa said to my boy, half as a joke, "You told our little secret buddy." I feel like I'm not respected as a parent. Every time my father-in-law does this I think it makes my kids think they don't need to mind and respect my wishes. What am
I to do?
Yes, this is sabotaging your authority as a parent. But this is such a common scenario with grandparents. There are worse things they could do, but I sympathize, as a parent with similar values regarding healthy eating.
I'd recommend having a real heart to heart talk, with all adults present. And I suggest you do this with your husband's full support so you don't seem like the over-reactive daughter-in-law. It's important to be assertive without being attacking. Try to understand his perspective. It's probably not to undermine you, but is the way he was taught to create a "special" relationship with your grandkid. Infuriating as it may be to you. Try to come up with some ideas of alternatives that he can give your kids, or special activities he can do with them. He may not understand what the big deal is. Maybe if you read the label and show him how many teaspoons of sugar is in a can of soda it will leave an impression. Really - literally try that. A can of coke has 9 teaspoons of sugar. Which is pretty shocking when you look at an actual heap of sugar on a plate.
Just be careful to educate without offending him. An active grandparent can be a real blessing in a child's life, so try not to make an enemy out of him just because he thinks his little secret is harmless.
Ben Schwarcz, MFT
Santa Rosa Psychotherapist