Parents, grandparents disagree on parenting about half the time, poll finds

Grandparents are more permissive with children than parents, leading to conflict, a new study found. Photo by fujidreams/Pixabay
Grandparents are more permissive with children than parents, leading to conflict, a new study found. Photo by fujidreams/Pixabay

Aug. 17 (UPI) -- About half of all parents and grandparents disagree over parenting choices for children like discipline, meals and TV time, according to the results of national poll released Monday.

Other disputes between parents and grandparents relate to children's manners, safety and health, as well as issues like bedtime, the poll found.


"Grandparents play a special role in children's lives and can be an important resource for parents through support, advice and babysitting," Sarah Clark, director of the Mott Poll at the University of Michigan, said in a statement.

"But they may have different ideas about the best way to raise the child and that can cause tension," said Clark, whose poll conducted the work.

The Mott Poll, led by researchers at the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, measures parental attitudes, experiences and priorities regarding health-related issues and trends for children in the United States.

The 2,016 participants -- all parents of children aged 18 and younger -- are surveyed three times a year on various topics, with results released monthly.

The new survey was intended to assess the dynamic between parents, grandparents and children, and the source of any disagreements about parenting between the generations, the researchers said.


Discipline was the biggest source of contention, with 57% of parents reporting they had disputes with grandparents on the issue, the researchers said. Forth percent of parents surveyed indicated they felt grandparents were too soft on children, while 14% suggested that grandparents are too tough.

Forty-four percent of parents said that arguments over what to feed children were common, with grandparents tending to give children cookies, ice cream and other unhealthy snacks.

Thirty-six percent of parents said that they had disagreements with grandparents about TV and screen time for the children, while bedtime for children was the point of contention for 21% of responding parents.

Twenty-seven percent of responding parents reported disagreements with grandparents concerning manners, 22 percent accused grandparents of treating some grandchildren differently than others and one in four reported disputes regarding the health and safety of children.

One in seven responding parents said they had decided to limit the amount of time their child sees certain grandparents because of these and other disputes, and 40% indicated they asked grandparents to change their behavior.

Only half of parents said that grandparents made changes, while 17% said grandparents outright refused to do so, the poll found.

"If grandparents contradict or interfere with parenting choices, it can have a serious strain on the relationship," Clark said.


"Grandparents should strive to understand and comply with parent requests to be more consistent with parenting choices -- not only to support parents in the difficult job of raising children, but to avoid escalating the conflict," she said.

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