In the last post on
grandparents we looked at a scenario in which visiting grandparents is an
occasional event. That is, perhaps you visit back and forth once or twice a
year. This post deals with more frequent contact, such as when grandparents
live close by or there is a visit lasting several weeks or more, which means
contact on a daily, or nearly daily, basis. The principles we looked at in the
post on visiting grandparents also apply here, but it is even more important to
have good clear communication lines established when there is regular contact over
a longer period of time.
You should still do the
four column worksheet mentioned earlier. In addition, you and your
spouse must have a clear discussion about where the points of difference lie,
at least those that will come up frequently, between your purposes in childrearing
and those of the grandparents. One common example is disagreement about how
discipline should be applied. This can be especially difficult for grandparents
if it is different than what they practiced or different than what they
currently believe. They may well take your different practice as an insult to
them. Sensitivity is called for. It is important to talk to your parents respectfully about these
differences. In a short visit, it may not be necessary or wise to discuss
thoroughly why you do some things differently, but if you and your children
have regular contact with your parents, then this discussion is necessary.
In order to have a
fruitful, positive discussion with your parents about differences, you must
first have good, clear biblical reasons for what you believe and practice. In
other words, you must have better reasons than saying that I am not raising my
children the way I was raised. If you do not have positive reasons for your
parenting practices, conflict is more likely to arise. Ephesians 4:29 applies
here. You want to say only those things that are beneficial for building others
up so that they may be helped by your words. Here are few ways to help this
discussion go smoothly.
First, root your practices
in biblical language and principles. A
book like Shepherding a Child’s Heart is a good place to start. Thus, if
your parents mention that you are doing something differently, you can say
something like – Mom, I know this looks different than what you did, but we are
just trying to follow what Ephesians 6:1 says about encouraging our kids to
respond right away without a lot of pleading and going back and forth with
them. These are principles that we have learned from church and from reading
books on biblical parenting. We would be really grateful if you could help us
be consistent so that the kids will continue to obey quickly when they are
asked to do something.
Second, Ephesians 6 applies to conversations with your
parents. Even if you have chosen a different path than your parents, it is
important that you be honorable and respectful toward them. If the situation
allows for you to do so honorably, you can tell your parents that it was their
desire to take parenting seriously that encouraged you in your present
direction. This could be true even if your parents are not Christians. Showing
appropriate honor to your parents can make a big difference in how your
practices are received.
Third, be confident and
pleasant as you discuss these matters with your parents. God has given you the
responsibility of raising your children. If you have clear biblical direction
for your parenting practices, then you can calmly and confidently affirm those
These are important
considerations for handling frequent contact with grandparents. Don’t think
that small irritations will get better or go away. Most likely they will get
worse over time if you try to gloss over them. Addressing matters
straightforwardly and evenly is the way to go. This will usually help reduce
stress and make your daily interactions more pleasing to God.
In the next post we will
look at how to handle objections that grandparents may have, including those
from grandparents who are not Christians.
One thought on “Grandparents Everyday”
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jay! What an amazing post! We used to live quite close to my husband’s parents a few years back and I really wished I had this godly advice then. I especially liked the way you put the words down as an example as to what to say. Your time is so appreciated!
I am looking forward to what else you have to say. This is such an important topic!