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How Do We Parent our Son when Grandma Sides with Him?

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From England: We had an argument with our teenage son who was rude and insolent. I handled it wrong. I got angry and shouted at him. I told him to stay at his grandmother’s house until he learned manners. But his grandmother has taken his side and my brother has too including taking him on a shopping spree and spending hundreds of dollars on him.

We wanted them to give him support and once tempers had cooled down after a day or two he would come back. But they’ve turned it into a summer camp for him; restaurant meals, shopping trips, everyone is fussing over him despite the fact he swore at his parents and was aggressive and shouted at us. He now refuses to come home.

We feel that my family has undermined our authority as parents and have damaged our ability to parent him in the future during the troubled times that will no doubt occur during the rest of his teenage years. When he finally returns home, how do we parent him when my family has undermined us to such an extent?

How Do We Parent our Son when Grandma Sides with Him?

Answered by on -


You’re right. Your family has undermined you. It would be a huge mistake for you to compete with your brother or the grandma who seem to be “buying” him with indulgence. Spoiling him will only spoil him.

There are two ways to “win” at a tug-of-war. Pull harder than the other side or drop your end of the rope. In this situation, I think you best bet is to do the latter. Stop arguing with the relatives and let them have your son as their guest for now. Go on with your lives. Enjoy having some time off from parenting a teen. Maybe you and your husband can even indulge yourselves by going to some events or out to dinner since you don’t have to worry about working around your son’s schedule and needs.

Your son has no motivation to give up the freedom and indulgence. I’m hopeful that the situation will get old for the relatives. For now, they get to feel superior to you. But will they continue to want your son in their lives, living the high life at their expense, for very long? Unless they have unlimited funds and patience, there is going to come a point where they will have to draw some limits and your son will be rude to them, too. Teenagers often are. At that point, resist the temptation to say “I told you so” and don’t be quick to take him back. That’s the moment when you can negotiate rules for his behavior at home and boundaries with the relatives.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How Do We Parent our Son when Grandma Sides with Him?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). How Do We Parent our Son when Grandma Sides with Him?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 1, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 4 Apr 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.