Warning Signs Of A Toxic Grandparent

By Sarah M 8 months ago

They Are Master Manipulators

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It can be very difficult to spot when a loved one is trying to manipulate you because, well, you love them! But if you find that your decisions, desires or emotions can be twisted and changed by your grandparent... it might just be a little bit toxic!

They Have Favorites

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It’s very normal to have preferences, you may have one sibling you prefer going shopping with and another that you prefer having deep chats with. However, if your grandparent is showing clear favouritism for the sake of causing rivalry and division amongst you, that is not okay!

They Constantly Criticize

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Your grandparents should be a safe space where you can receive love, encouragement and really great advice! If your grandma is only heaping criticism on you; insulting the way you look, your career choices or even the way you raise your own kids - that is toxic behaviour!

No Boundaries

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Even our grandparents need to learn the importance of personal boundaries in order to keep their family relationships healthy and safe. If you find they undermine the boundaries you have set out for yourself to make your life as anxiety free as possible - they need to do better!

They Undermine Your Parents

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It's never easy raising a kid, especially with a parent constantly looking over your shoulder and making negative comments. If you find that your grandfolks are always undermining or contradicting your parents decisions when it comes to how they raised you, this is toxic behaviour.

Emotional Blackmail

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As dramatic as this sounds, it's not always that easy to spot. If your grandparents have the ability to get their own way buy guilt tripping you or by expressing intense emotions - this is emotional manipulation and it is a completely unhealthy way to treat a family member!

They Isolate You

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Isolating a loved one is something we hear a lot about in romantic relationships but it is surprisingly common within the grandparent-grandchild dynamic too. You may find that they try to separate you from your parents or wider family; unless they are protecting you from genuine danger, it's just not okay.

Neglect

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Imagine collecting your kid after a weekend away at their grandparents only to discover they had been ignored, missed meals and not left the house. You would be furious I imagine as these are all signs of neglect. Just because they are not the parent, they still have a duty of care.

Love With Conditions

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Just like with your parents, a grandparent's love should be unconditional. It is not normal or healthy for your grandparent to only show you affection or attention when you are doing something for them and meeting their specific demands. Conditional love is a big red flag.

Emotional Abuse

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It's not just physical abuse that makes a relationship toxic, emotional abuse can completely devastate families and on a personal level, can dramatically alter your mental health and how you see yourself. If they use bullying behaviours like name calling or belittling - this is abuse.

Everything's A Competition

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I don't know about you, but I like to keep competition on the sports field and out of my family life! Another example of toxic behaviour from grandparents is forced competition. They will attempt to cause rivalry between you and your siblings or cousins.

Scapegoating

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We all know how easy it is to deflect or blame-shift when we are stressed or overwhelmed, but if your grandparent is repeatedly putting blame on one grandchild, this could be a toxic situation. No one should be unfairly blaming every big family problem on one person.

They Invade Personal Space

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You probably grew up loving cuddles and long chats with your grandparents, but as we get older, we need our personal space. If they are constantly pushing the boundaries of your personal life and invading your privacy, this has gone too far and a serious discussion needs to happen.

Gossiping

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We all love hearing a really good bit of gossip, it can feel exciting and scandalous and, let's be honest, really good fun. However, if your grandparents are always disclosing family secrets or malicious gossip about your parents or close relatives to you, this is not healthy.

Love Bombing

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It feels amazing to be showered with gifts on your birthday or during the holidays; who doesn't love a big pile of presents?! However, if your grandparent is suddenly overwhelming you with material gifts and treats on a daily basis, this could be a warning sign of 'Love Bombing'.

Inconsistency

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Inconsistency in a personal relationship can feel confusing for anyone, but especially for a child. If your child's grandparent takes them on amazing day trips and showers them with affection, only to go MIA for a month afterwards, it is going to leave your kid feeling unsettled.

No Emotional Support

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It's not only your physical needs that can go neglected, if you are receiving no support when you are going through a tough patch, you will understand the devastation of emotional neglect. Your grandparent should be someone who cares for you and uplifts you when you are in a dark place.

Intrusiveness

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You should never find yourself in a position where a family member has gone behind your back and intruded in your personal life. If your grandparent is talking to people on your behalf without your permission or even reading your personal post or emails - this is toxic!

No Respect

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We are always (rightly) told to respect our elders, but this goes both ways. Just because you are a different generation to your grandparents, you still deserve their full respect. They may not share the same opinions to you, but they should at least respect them.

Manipulating Your Timetable

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Of course, if an elderly relative is unwell, we should always try to work around them and their needs. However, if your grandparent is fit as a fiddle and they are still demanding that you and your child organize your entire lives around them - something needs to change.

Gaslighting

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If you had to list the worst ways a person can be toxic, gaslighting would probably come right at the top. When someone makes us doubt our own perceptions, it can make us feel like we are going mad - and when it's your own grandparent doing the truth twisting, that will feel even worse!

They Sabotage Your Relationships

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It's a horrible feeling when you introduce a new partner to your family, only to find out that they didn't warm to them. Expressing dislike in your new partner is one thing, but actively doing all they can to sabotage the relationship is pure toxicity!

Religious Pressure

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We all have the right to follow whatever religion we believe in. Being from a different generation, our grandparents will likely have grown up in a stricter religious environment to us, however this does not excuse them forcing their beliefs on to you.

The Grandparents Cult

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Nowadays we all seem to be obsessed with documentaries about bizarre cults. Well, you may not need to look too far to see some cult-like behaviour in your own life. If your grandparents isolate you or your child from the outside world and impose strict, unfair rules... that sounds pretty cultish!

Unrealistic Expectations

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It's always nice to know someone believes in you and your ability to succeed. However, it quickly becomes toxic if the expectations for your life are way too extreme. If your grandparent expects you to be perfect in every way, both of you will end up disappointed!

They Control Your Finances

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Accepting help with our finances when we are in a difficult position can be a vulnerable thing to do but ultimately, it is a necessity. However, if this financial aid from your grandparents develops into them having complete control over your outgoings - it could be toxic.

Political Pressure

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A lot of us have just had to accept that we will never agree politically with our grandparents. This can make thanksgiving dinner very awkward but at least it's only once a year … right? Well for many of us, this pressure to change our views continues all year round.

Verbal Abuse

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We've all been in heated disagreements where voices get raised and things get said that no one necessarily meant. These moments should be the anomaly in an otherwise calm and happy life; if your grandparent is constantly shouting and swearing at you, they are bad news.

Physical Abuse

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There is never any excuse for physical abuse. Your grandparents are your family, they should be people you feel completely safe around, not people you feel scared of! If you are in an abusive relationship with a family member, confide in someone you trust or the authorities.

They Never Say Sorry

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A lot of the toxic behaviours we have listen here could be resolved by an open and honest conversation and a heartfelt apology. However, some people will just never say sorry. If your grandparent treats you badly but always refuses to apologize, this is completely toxic!