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Grandchildren And The Bragging Game

You already know that a later-in-life relationship requires a balance of interests and priorities, and you’re willing to work hard at it. But if your grandson is making his way through a pretty good community college and the senior man you’re dating has a grandson at Yale, here’s a stress you may not have anticipated: grandkid one-upmanship.

Your new guy can’t be blamed if he thinks his grandkids are the greatest; you think the same about your own. Bragging about grandchildren is normal, natural, and expected. But the process has its rules — and its revelations. The way you two boast about your grandchildren can reveal a lot about how your relationship will evolve.

To brag fairly is the rule – no mine/yours comparisons, in which the accomplished kids are mine and the less talented are yours. Here are some hints to help you recognize what can strengthen the bond between you and the new guy, and what can throw the relationship off track.

A GOOD way

“My grandson is practicing to be the best baseball pitcher in the league.”

“I’m really proud that my granddaughter’s shed those extra pounds. She looks beautiful now.”

“My grandson wants to be an engineer — just like me!”

A BAD way

“It’s probably hard for you to understand what it’s like to have a grandchild who excels in sports.”

“My grandkids aren’t afraid to express their opinions (a veiled reference to your grandchild’s shyness).”

“I can’t understand why (your grandchild) is so interested in video games.”


“Your grandson doesn’t seem to have many friends.”

“Your Susan is going to have to work hard to attract a guy.”

“Kids who don’t play sports in school will probably be unhealthy later in life.”


Selfish bragging is a warning sign.  You want to avoid a man with a mean-spirited way of bragging that exalts his family and disregards the pride you take in your own. The right kind of man will know how to speak of what brings him happiness without diminishing yours.

By the way, cheerful attendance at dance recitals, little league games, graduations, band concerts and bar mitzvahs is manditory for both of you — all things being equal, of course, such as acceptance of your new relationship by the parents of these grandchildren, and by the grandkids themselves……but that’s a blogpost for another day.


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'Grandchildren And The Bragging Game' have 13 comments

  1. July 11, 2016 @ 2:38 pm Sienna

    Gracie – You’re right. I know better than to equate thinness with beauty — and ironically, I campaign against negative body images. I should have used a different example here. I was actually thinking of a friend whose granddaughter had been fighting obesity for years and had only recently retained a positive sense of self, to her grandmother’s great relief. Thank you for pointing this out.

  2. July 6, 2016 @ 11:33 pm Gracie

    How can this: “I’m really proud that my granddaughter’s shed those extra pounds. She looks beautiful now.” be a GOOD anything? Wasn’t she beautiful before? This type of comment has made girls/women undervalue themselves and this article perpetuates that. Shame on you.

  3. January 30, 2016 @ 7:07 am Tanya

    This is beautiful and inspiring.

  4. November 24, 2015 @ 3:03 pm Reggie

    This has been the most difficult part of keeping a man, believe it or not. I find someone I like and everything is great, then we go visit my kids and grandkids and he is visibly distressed. I am attracted to quiet, dignified types and my kids are too wild for them, I guess. They’re not druggies or anything, just outspoken and freewheeling.

  5. September 13, 2015 @ 12:36 pm Percival

    I am dating a women who talks about her grandchildren ALL the time. I like her a lot, but I’m losing patience. I wish she would get some perpective on this. I think she thinks she wants to show how loving and caring she is in general but it’s backfiring.

  6. September 13, 2015 @ 12:32 pm Ariella

    If this was the only problem we had it would be surmountable, but the grandchildren bragging is only part of it. He brags also about his kids, so I get a double dose. My kids and grandkids have accomplishments of their own, and I guess I have to say he struggles to listen, but he’s not at all interested in what they do and he’d rather I go without him when I visit them.

  7. August 27, 2015 @ 6:19 pm Pretty Polly

    Mine are the best, really

  8. July 27, 2015 @ 8:44 am JealousOne

    You hit this one amazingly just right. My grandson is a loser compared to the one my boyfriend has. He brags about his all the time and he’s clear about thinking that mine won’t amount to anything. On top of that, he criticizes my daughter and son in law for not raising him right. It’s the only thing that is a real problemfor us but it’s a big stress, as you say.

  9. July 27, 2015 @ 8:40 am Christina

    My grandchildren are precious to me and I expect any man I go with to understand that. I don’t think it’s too much to ask a man to participate in your time with them. A man who won’t love my adorable grandchildren will not be with me.

  10. July 26, 2015 @ 11:51 am Natalie G.

    I am seeing a man who regularly attends my grandson’s little league baseball games and enthusiastically cheers him on. The only problem is that he doesn’t want him to come over for visits and to have dinner at my house or swim in my community’s pool. In other words, off-site is okay, but he doesn’t want him “underfoot”. We’ve talked about it but he remains the same. I don’t want to lose him, so I try to comply but it hurts me. I do meet my grandson privately sometimes or visit my son, daughter in law and Jimmy by myself. I don’t know if I would want this man around permanently if he stays the way he is.

  11. July 26, 2015 @ 5:35 am Stanley

    You should add to just shut up about them. The woman I’m seeing is a professional grandmother and talks about hers all the time. I really don’t give a damn about what her granddaughter is going to wear to her next dance. I try to listen but it’s really a problem. She is otherwise very nice.

  12. July 25, 2015 @ 10:38 am Edna

    My current male friend hasn’t got any grandchildren and he tries to be nice to mine, but I can tell he’s just faking it. I feel pressured not to involve them as much as I’d like to. Should I make dates with them and leave him out? I don’t really know the best way to handle.

  13. July 25, 2015 @ 9:42 am Penny Lain

    I’m really glad to read about this, and you’re right that it’s an unanticipated stress. My grandkids are not as accomplished as his and he frequently hurts me by making comparisons. He thinks he is softening the criticisms but they still hurt. I plan to show him this well written article. Thank you.

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