Grandma indulges my almost-4-year-old son beyond all reason. When he is with her, he is constantly plied with cookies and toys and screen time. She indulges his every whim. With her there are seemingly no boundaries, nothing educational, and no thought as to what might be good for him in terms of his long term growth. Everything is about satisfying anything he could hope for now. When she is not with him in person, my son Skypes with her. Most of those Skype sessions are comprised of grandma showing him the new toys she is amassing for him, while she takes down lists of his wants so that she can buy more.
She definitely loves him dearly. But this seems to be as much about buying his love than providing for him. She is competitive when it comes to his affection. She always asks where he gets toys that she does not recognize.
When my son spends any time with her, which is of course his favorite thing to do, he regresses in many ways. He becomes lazy. He demands to watch TV constantly. He demands junk food. His parents become of little interest to him.
Grandma is my son's corruptor – but my son is under 4 years old. This is not new of course. We have tried to reason with her. We try to make boundaries. But she can be evil. Around me, she pays lipservice. But when she is alone with my wife she becomes vicious and manipulative. She is narcissistic. She is mean. She makes my wife cry. She brings up my wife’s dead father as some kind of bizarre psychological torture weapon. She is disrespectful.
I am torn about this. I want to provide as much love as possible to my son. And anyone that loves him should be showering that love on him. But this is love comes with some pretty nasty side-effects. Torn.