If I had a nickel for every grandparent who bragged about spoiling their grandkids and for every parent who was frustrated with their previously strict parents, I would be rich. Spoiling seems to be synonymous with grandparenting. As parents, you often seemed like military sergeants enforcing the rules when your kids were little. Now you take great pleasure in helping your grandchildren break almost every rule your kids have established for them.
Now I don’t want to rob you of your joy and evidently your birthright as a grandparent to spoil. What I am going to ask is that you see how you do it through a different filter. When you encourage your grandchildren to break their parents’ rules at your house or you take joy in the fact you are helping them break those rules, you are in fact planting seeds of rebellion in their hearts. They begin associating breaking rules with having fun – much more fun than when their parents make them keep the rules. What begins as fun seeds of rebellion against their parents can end up as rebelling against the laws of God in the future.
There is a way though, that you can spoil and not encourage them to begin rebelling against rules and authorities and associate it with fun and joy. Sit down with your kids and have an open discussion. Which rules are they okay with temporarily suspending when their kids are with you? Which rules do they want to insist you enforce as strongly as they would?
Once you are in agreement, explain the system to your grandchildren. In life, there are some rules which are place specific. For example it’s perfectly wonderful to yell at a playground, but yelling in a library will get you in a lot of trouble. Other rules such as not lying are rules for everywhere and every time. Explain you and their parents have agreed that some of the rules in their house are different than some of the rules when they are at your house. Maybe they can stay up a little later or get extra desserts. Help them understand though, that certain rules (which usually mirror the rules God has for us) will be enforced as strictly at your house as at their parents’ house. Make it clear you respect their parents as the authority in their lives – especially if your children are trying to be godly parents.
Have fun spoiling your grandkids, but don’t set it up as an “us against them” situation with your kids. No matter what your motives, encouraging your grandkids to rebel (and sometimes hide that rebellion/lie as well) is planting ungodly seeds in the hearts of your grandchildren. Your kids need and want you to help them point their kids to God. In this case, you can have your extra cookie and eat it too.