I grew up with my grandparents from both sides of the family. My parents shipped me in Bacolod or Baguio when they were reviewing for the Bar Exams in Manila. I even remember getting everything I want – from toys to food, every time I’m with them. I enjoy spending time with my grandparents because unlike my parents who I considered as kontrabidas (that was before, please), I get what I want, no apprehensions.
Of course, I didn’t understand that until I had my own kids.
My husband and I are the eldest in our families, so our kids are enjoying the privilege of being the babies in both sides. As a result, they often get what they want – and I mean all they want. Every time my girls want something, they would call my mom or the husband’s grandfather (their great grandfather) and the next day, they would have it. My eldest daughter would also go with my parents every weekend and they will go to the mall. As soon as she gets home, expect her to have a big bag full of clothes, toys, and food.
My husband is not very fond of this arrangement. We want the best for our kids, but that doesn’t mean we should buy anything they like and whenever they want it. As much as possible, we tell them that we need to save up for it first and try to delay their want as long as we can. With the grandparents around, they can easily get what they want.
Case in point: Lego. For a time, the kids were so obsessed with Moana that they were excited to see that the Lego version made its way to their favorite toy store. Of course, we didn’t buy it, so they came rushing to their great grandfather and asked if he could buy them the Moana Lego – and I’m sure you know the answer. Apparently, no matter how much we reminded our parents to not spoil our kids that much, they always end up buying things for them.
Here’s my biggest question: Should we allow grandparents to spoil our kids?
Using my mom’s point of view, the reason why they spoil the kids is because it makes them happy, especially when they see the joy in their faces. They consider their trips to the mall as their bonding moments and the best part is it is something the kids can already remember. It’s not about “buying their love” but the kids are closer and more malambing now that they are spending more time with them. Plus, they are grandparents and their role is to splurge on our kids and leave the discipline to us.
My Take on the Issue
I can and will never take away that privilege from my parents and in-laws. They enjoy buying things for our kids, which we often don’t want to buy (or can’t buy because it’s expensive!). I consider my kids lucky because their grandparents from both sides are there to spoil them and take care of them. My kids get to spend time with them while they are still “younger” and stronger – and that is something they will cherish forever.
When it comes to spoiling, my husband and I constantly remind our parents to take it easy. To be honest, we don’t mind if they want to buy things for our kids and give them what they want, but as much as possible, we encourage them not to buy something expensive. We don’t want the kids to get used to getting everything they want even if they don’t really deserve it. At the same time, we don’t want the kids to grow up embracing material things as if it is their only source of happiness.
On the other hand, we impose simplicity and constantly remind our girls that all the toys given them won’t last forever. We tell them not to ask their grandparents to buy them what they want every time we say no. If we allow them to go with their lolos and lolas, we remind them not to buy expensive things. If something was given to them, we always make sure that the girls take care of it, handled with care.
The bottom line is this: Always set and impose limitations. We can never change the fact that grandparents are natural spoilers, but this doesn’t we should just let them and be our kids’ everyday Santa. Remind the parents as well to take it easy on spending. Instead, let’s all focus on making use of our time wisely and creating memories rather than buying every toy in the story that will make the kids happy.
Ayi is a stay-at-home mom of two. When her kids are in their best state, she keeps up with chores, work, and ensuring that her sanity is intact. Join her as she navigates through this rollercoaster ride called motherhood.