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My mother-in-law never has toys for my daughter when she babysits
Q: My mother and mother-in-law watch my 17-month-old daughter. My mother has toys and does activities to keep her occupied. My mother-in–law has not bought a single thing for her since she was 6 months old. Is there a way I can ask her why she doesn’t like to buy her anything? I thought grandparents were supposed to “spoil” their grandchildren.
A: I wouldn’t say anything to her, Irene. Just be sure to take some toys your daughter especially likes to your mother-in-law’s house. And I would leave them there with a comment such as, “She needs toys to play with now to help her develop, and I thought you might like to keep these here.” If you can do so without sounding too catty, comment casually on some of the toys her other grandmother has bought for her. And you might take your mother-in-law with you when you are shopping to help her learn more about the importance of toys as a means of helping young children grow and develop. Along with the toys, take her to the library and let her see books she can check out to read to your daughter.

It is certainly true that grandparents find great joy in “spoiling” their grandchildren. I know that from personal experience! But some grandparents feel that their spoiling should come in the form of coats or jackets, new shoes, a piece of furniture, etc. I think you have a good childcare deal—one that’s good for you, your daughter and both sets of grandparents. Don’t ruin it when you can correct the problem with little effort or expense.