Do Grandparents sometimes disrespect Parents? (5 Strategies)

In this article, we explore the delicate dynamics of family relationships, particularly focusing on instances where grandparents may show disrespect toward parents. This situation, though not often openly discussed, can create significant emotional strain within families. We aim to clarify this complex interaction and provide practical advice for handling such scenarios effectively.

Do Grandparents sometimes disrespect Parents?

Yes, there are instances where grandparents might disrespect parents. This disrespect can manifest in various forms, such as undermining parental authority, criticizing parenting choices, or overstepping boundaries. Understanding why this happens and how to address it is crucial for maintaining healthy family relationships and for the uprising of the children. 

Children who grow up in homes where violence and disagreements between family members are recurrent tend to have a worse psychosocial adjustment compared to children who grow up in places with good care. This affects their relationships and their performance both at school and in other areas of their lives (extracurricular activities, sports, etc.).

On the other hand, homes where the argument is constant can also affect the same family members who argue. Places where the environment is stressful can increase the levels of anxiety, depression and stress of family members, harming their physical and mental health.

Causes of disrespect

There are several causes, such as the dynamics of power and authority within the family, as grandparents may struggle with the transition from being primary caregivers to advisory roles. Additionally, external stressors such as financial pressures or health concerns can exacerbate tensions, leading to disrespectful behaviour.

In turn, grandparents who spend more time taking care of grandchildren compared to parents, for various reasons such as the parents’ work or other commitments, may want to have a more leading role in raising the children, which leads to disagreements.

On the other hand, there may be other causes, such as:

– Generational differences in parenting styles: Older generations may have differing views on child-rearing, leading to disagreements. [1]

– Boundary issues: Sometimes, grandparents might unintentionally overstep boundaries due to their emotional investment in their grandchildren. [2]

– Communication gaps: Misunderstanding can arise from poor communication, leading to perceived disrespect. 

– Health or Cognitive Decline: In some cases, disrespect might stem from a grandparent’s health issues, including cognitive decline, which can affect their behaviour and judgment. 

– Personal Insecurities: Grandparents might feel insecure about their role or value within the family, leading them to overcompensate by being overly critical or authoritative.

– Jealousy or Competition: Sometimes, grandparents might feel jealous of the parent’s relationship with the grandchildren or compete for affection and attention.

– Unresolved Issues from the Past: Previous conflicts or unresolved issues between the parent and grandparent can resurface, impacting current interactions.

Impact on family relationships

All of this can cause tensions between parents and adults to escalate, in tension and conflict, finally leading to positions as extreme as not speaking to each other anymore or losing contact with the antagonistic family member [3].

Also, frequent arguments confuse children, since sometimes they receive mixed messages and may have problems identifying who to listen to or pay attention to. In the worst cases, children end up being victims of arguments, where they can fall into a “hostage” position where they are used to attack the other family member.

It is important to keep in mind that all discussions must take place in a context where the children do not see these frictions, because there is also the danger that they will begin to take sides, harming the development of their relationship with the family member who does not agree with them. chosen one.

Addressing the issue

When addressing the issue of grandparents disrespecting parents, it’s crucial to involve mutual respect and respectful conversations to understand each other’s perspectives and concerns. It’s also important to seek a compromise that acknowledges the grandparents’ experience while upholding the parents’ authority and decisions in raising their children.

It is important to practice active listening, and not close yourself off to the advice that grandparents may also be giving. It should be noted that the lack of respect may be coming from a place of help, and the problem that is occurring is due to not knowing how to express that corrective help.

When it comes to addressing the situation, the following strategies may help:

Open and honest communication

Open and honest communication is vital in resolving issues of disrespect between grandparents and parents. It involves creating a safe space for expressing feelings and concerns without judgment, actively listening to each other’s perspectives, and acknowledging differences in parenting styles or values [4]. This approach fosters understanding and respect, paving the way for healthier family dynamics and cooperative relationships.

Additionally, this form of problem-solving helps raise children, who will learn assertive ways to deal with their problems tomorrow which they can carry into their personal lives.

Finally, they will be learning to respect their way of thinking and the opinions of others, resolving conflicts correctly.

Setting Boundaries and Establishing Expectations

In situations where grandparents disrespect parents, it’s crucial to set clear boundaries and establish expectations. This involves open communication where both parties express their needs and concerns, and a mutual agreement is reached on roles and limitations. Respectful and consistent enforcement of these boundaries is key to maintaining a healthy family dynamic, ensuring that both parents’ authority and grandparents’ input are valued [5].

This process requires patience and understanding from both sides. Parents should explain their parenting choices and expectations in a way that acknowledges the grandparents’ experiences and insights, fostering mutual respect. However, it’s equally important for grandparents to respect these boundaries once set. They should understand that while their guidance is valuable, the final decisions lie with the parents.

This respect for boundaries is essential for maintaining a healthy and supportive family dynamic. In cases where boundaries are repeatedly crossed, it may be necessary to enforce consequences or seek external help, such as family counselling. Addressing the issue head-on and with consistency is key to ensuring that the relationship between grandparents, parents, and grandchildren remains positive and healthy.

Seeking mediation

Seeking mediation or professional support becomes vital when the disrespect between grandparents and parents leads to ongoing family conflict or distress [6]. A neutral mediator or family therapist can provide a safe space for open dialogue, helping each party understand the other’s perspective and work towards a constructive resolution. This approach not only aims to resolve immediate issues but also strengthens family relationships and communication skills for the future.

Professional mediators are skilled in conflict resolution and can guide the conversation towards constructive solutions. They ensure that each party is heard and understood, which is crucial in resolving deep-seated issues. This approach often reveals underlying issues and helps in finding common ground.

Mediation also emphasizes the importance of maintaining family relationships while addressing specific problems. It encourages empathy and understanding, helping both grandparents and parents to see each other’s perspectives. This can lead to more respectful interactions and a better family dynamic.

In cases where direct communication has failed, mediation can be a vital step towards reconciliation. It helps in establishing new boundaries and expectations, ensuring that future interactions are respectful and considerate. Ultimately, mediation can pave the way for a harmonious family relationship, benefiting all members, especially the grandchildren.

Leading by Example

In cases where grandparents show disrespect towards parents, leading by example becomes a powerful tool. Parents can demonstrate respectful behaviour through consistent, calm communication and by showing understanding and patience towards the grandparents. This approach not only models positive behaviour for the children but also sets a standard of mutual respect and empathy in family interactions, encouraging grandparents to mirror these attitudes.

On the other hand, leading by example, and not getting into arguments, can help calm the atmosphere, where it can also lead to introspection on the part of the grandparents. It also contributes to the general well-being of the family and the children, showing them a powerful conflict resolution technique, and teaching them how to prevent a situation from escalating.

Seeking professional help

Professional help should be sought in situations where grandparents’ disrespect towards parents escalates to persistent conflict, emotional distress, or impacts the well-being of the family. If communication breaks down and the situation remains unresolved despite efforts to address it, consult with family therapists [7] or counsellors who specialize in intergenerational family dynamics.

These professionals provide an objective perspective and can help identify the root causes of the disrespect and tension. Through therapy sessions, families can learn effective communication strategies and understand each other’s perspectives better. This process helps in breaking down barriers and fostering empathy, which is crucial for resolving conflicts.

Therapists also offer tools and techniques to manage emotions and reactions, which can prevent the escalation of disputes. In some cases, the disrespect may stem from deeper, unresolved issues within the family.

Professional help can address these underlying problems, facilitating healing and reconciliation. This approach is especially beneficial in situations where past conflicts or trauma are influencing current relationships.

Lastly, seeking professional help demonstrates a commitment to improving the family dynamic. It shows an acknowledgement that the issue is significant and that the family values their relationships enough to invest in repairing them. This step can be pivotal in transforming strained relationships into healthier, more respectful ones. 


From my experience in family dynamics, it is crucial to address instances of grandparents disrespecting parents with empathy, clear communication, and appropriate boundaries. These strategies, grounded in understanding and respect, can help navigate these complex family situations, ensuring a harmonious and supportive family environment for all involved. 

Children must also be taken into account, who are the main victims when family dynamics are not working correctly. In this way, although there will always be debates about correct parenting, different positions can be addressed healthily and become beneficial for all the people involved.

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