Usually, we have a heartwarming image of a grandparent. However, grandparents can sometimes be very toxic towards their grandchildren, and no matter how disturbing that might sound, it turns out to be true in many families.
Realize that a grandparent can be toxic
The relationship a child shares with their grandparents is one of the most special bonds that influences children even in their adulthood. Sadly, some grandparents can be too toxic for their own grandchildren. They can negatively influence and manipulate their grandchildren and use this as an opportunity to create never-ending drama in the family.
A toxic grandparent can not only be self-serving and controlling, they can also be harmful to your kids and your family. However, it can often be difficult to realize that one of your parents or in-laws is spreading their toxicity into the lives of your children.
The relationship between a toxic grandparent and their grandchildren can be stressful, draining, and complex, believes hypnotherapist and life coach Claire Jack, Ph.D. She explains “Grandchildren, potentially, make for great narcissistic supply – new, innocent little people who can be molded to meet the grandmother’s needs.”
The moment you ignore and directly or indirectly permit your toxic parent to manipulate your children, you are increasing their chances of facing the same emotional abuse you did when you were a child. Toxic grandparents will demand unlimited access to your children, they will violate your parental boundaries and may even use your children against you.
However, if you try to protest it, they will outright hate your children, which can affect the emotional well-being of your kids.
If you think your children have a toxic grandparent, then the first thing you need to do is be aware of the situation and learn to spot the warning signs. Once you can identify the signs of a toxic grandparent, you can take steps to prevent further damage.
Signs of a toxic grandparent
Here are some signs of a manipulative, narcissistic and toxic grandparent that you need to watch out for –
1. They question your parenting skills.
Regardless of how hard you may try, you will never be considered a good parent by narcissistic grandparents. They will constantly undermine your parenthood and act as if they know better than you about raising a child.
They will criticize your decisions and efforts. They will disrespect and violate your routines, boundaries, and rules & instead create constant drama & chaos. Moreover, as such behavior can appear to be in favor of your children, the little ones may grow increasingly fond of the toxic grandparent which can create further challenges for you.
2. They criticize your child.
A toxic grandparent doesn’t really love or care about their grandchildren. The children are nothing but a part of their narcissistic supply. This is why they often tend to belittle, humiliate, and insult their grandkids.
They may also ignore the children, forget their birthdays and use them for their own gain. They may even use threats or physical discipline as well. Due to their manipulative, judgmental, and critical nature, toxic people may criticize children even when they don’t really want to. Their toxicity will eventually start to affect the child’s development and may even lead to serious mental health problems.
3. They manipulate you & your children.
Toxic grandparents can go to any length to get what they want and that includes manipulating your family. They will never hesitate to guilt trip you in order to make you concede. You or your partner may have experienced their manipulative tricks as a child, but now as a grandparent, they will introduce a host of new strategies to make you feel guilty about taking a stand.
Narcissistic grandparents are master manipulators who know exactly how to play with your and your children’s emotions to fulfill their own wishes. Such behavior can lead to low self-confidence and self-esteem in your children.