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Off the Rails: Don't even try to stop grandparents from spoiling their grandkids

TODAY's Al Roker has some strong advice for parents who have a problem with grandparents spoiling their grandchildren.
/ Source: TODAY

What should parents do about grandparents who spoil their grandchildren?

"GET OVER IT," advises TODAY's Al Roker. A beneficiary of past grandparental spoiling, Roker fondly remembers how his grandfather always managed to pull a mint out from behind each grandchild's ear, much to their amazement. It was a carefully planned trick, he later discovered.

"My grandmother had sewn a little pocket in his coat that he could reach through his pocket, and it went into another pocket," Roker told co-hosts Sheinelle Jones and Dylan Dreyer in's exclusive "Off the Rails" digital parenting chat.

"Grandparents are supposed to spoil" their grandkids, said Roker, a father of three.

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"Absolutely," agreed Jones, who also has three children, ages 8, 5 and 5. Her own father was strict with her and her siblings, she said, but totally dotes on his grandchildren. "When I send my kids over there, they get chocolate, they get cake... for my son's eighth birthday, he just bought him an ice-cream maker!"

Some parents get frustrated by the spoiling, especially when grandparents go against the rules that the parents have laid down, Jones noted. It's such a common problem that the "What To Expect When You're Expecting" website has a whole section devoted to the issue. Author Heidi Murkoff's advice: let some things slide, but don't compromise on health and safety.

In other words, extra sweets are fine... not buckling the car seat is NOT OK.

Dreyer, mom of 9-month-old Calvin, fondly remembered learning to play cards with her grandmother — and, yes, being indulged a little. "That's what made it special, because you're allowed to get away with stuff."

While the grandparents may go overboard with her children on occasion, Jones said, "I actually embrace it."

So, go ahead, grandparents: Spoil away!