4. They try to control your parenting decisions.
A toxic grandparent will meddle and interfere with your decisions and efforts as a parent. They will manipulate and break your rules with your children, set up new rules and may even criticize or insult you before your own children.
They will act in a controlling manner as if they have complete authority over you and your children and believe that they are entitled to making the final parenting decisions.
Although it is okay for you to disagree with your parents or in-laws when it comes to raising your children right, they should never encroach on your parenting rights. They should never disregard your authority over your children and establish their own.
5. They play the victim card.
This is another form of manipulation used by narcissistic grandparents. When all other manipulative strategies prove ineffective, they will pretend to be the victim and make you seem like an abusive, toxic person.
Victim playing is typically an attention-seeking or manipulative strategy used to control the emotions and behaviors of other people. Whether done deliberately or not, it can make you feel stressed out, frustrated, selfish, and guilty. Not only can this affect your emotional and mental health, but it can also influence your family dynamics and your child’s mental health.
Playing the victim enables toxic grandfathers and grandmothers to hide their bad behavior, do whatever they feel like and avoid any responsibilities.
6. They are masters at playing favorites.
Most parents and grandparents tend to favor one child over another. However, when a grandparent deliberately favors one grandchild then it can lead to toxic relationships in the family.
Narcissistic grandparents will spend more time with their favorite grandchild, abuse or discipline them less, and give them more privileges and affection. However, this can be mentally and emotionally devastating for the other child.
Best-selling author and mental health expert Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D. explains “Children are not stupid. They can sense when this type of inequity exists. They can sense it even when the parent does not. Desperately they attempt to figure out what is wrong with them. The reasons they come up with can cause lifelong damage to self-esteem.”
Toxic grandparents tend to compare the children and clearly establish one as better than the other. This can make the other child feel that they are not good enough, a tendency which can be carried into adulthood.
7. They use money to “buy” love.
Most children are often spoiled by their grandparents with constant gifts. But this is usually done out of genuine love and affection. However, a toxic grandparent may use their finances to control and abuse your children.
Narcissists are incapable of truly loving someone, even if it’s their own grandchildren. Due to their limited range of emotions, they may not emotionally connect with your kids. And due to their lack of genuine love and care, they believe they can buy love with gifts and financial aid.
They may use their money to constantly buy gifts or toys for your kids in an attempt to be loved by the little ones. For them, even gift-giving is a manipulative strategy.
They may not ask your permission or even ignore your opinions before buying a really expensive gift, like an iPhone. Not only this violates your parental boundaries, it is also an attempt to outshine you. Moreover, this creates a negative impact on the children and sends them the wrong message. This is undoubtedly a form of financial abuse.
8. They want to be favored.
They want to be the best grandparent even if they do not deserve the title. If they ever get any hint that they are not loved, liked or favored by the other members of the family, they may behave and react in toxic, passive-aggressive ways.
As they feel entitled, they tend to have a grandiose attitude. They will always demand a perfect relationship from their children and grandchildren even when they have not invested themselves into these relationships. They expect everyone to be grateful for anything they do for their grandchildren and want to be a part of every small decision-making process of your family.
They have no problem invading personal boundaries and will enforce their rights to manipulate you and your children.