To Grandma’s House we Go!

The first scenario I want
to visit in this series is Visiting the Grandparents. That is, on a regular or
semi-regular basis you pack up the family and head for your parents. Such
visits can be blissful or stressful. But most important for you, the parents,
to remember is that your children depend on you for stability and evenness.

The guiding principle in
your planning must be to discern what will make the visit a success from God’s perspective. By implication,
that means you must be more concerned about the relational aspects of your
visit with the grandparents than with the logistical aspects. What happens
logistically, that is, the actual things and activities done during the visit, is
important, but these logistics must be determined by biblical principles. You
know your children, and you know your parents. It would be wise to think through
the points of conflict that are likely to arise between you, your children, and
your parents. You probably already have a good idea of what your parents will
be planning for you and your children. And you already know which of those
things present a problem. Do you avoid thinking about these potential conflicts,
hoping for the best? Don’t! You know they are likely to arise. Why wait till
the problem erupts, when you can plan ahead and attempt to resolve the problem

Here is where things may
begin to get a little tricky. You and your spouse sit down to have a planning
meeting to head off potential problems. One spouse says something like this:

“I sure hope your parents
will be different this time. I can’t believe how they just expect the kids to
be quiet all the time.”

To which the other spouse
says, “My parents!?!!! Well at least they aren’t like your parents who fill
them up with sweets and sugar all day long and encourage them to do whatever
they want! And then they have the gall to tell me to lighten up, I shouldn’t be
so much of a control freak! Great—this planning session is over—I’ll take care
of what my parents do, and you better watch out that your folks don’t ruin our
kids with all their permissiveness and fawning over them.”

Well, that was a successful
planning session.  Such problems result
from the lack of a clear biblical vision. That is why you as parents must understand
what God is saying to you in his Word. Regardless of how the grandparents may
act during the visit, you, the parents, are responsible for your children. So
the first step toward a successful Visit to the Grandparents is for both
parents to be clearly on the same page with your expectations. Know what you
expect from your children, and know how you will address problems biblically.
If you, as Mom and Dad, have underlying irritations about your approach to
parenting, these will come to the surface during the Visit to the Grandparents.
Thus, the first step is to do whatever it
to agree on what God has called you to do in parenting. That means
you will have to discuss the ways that each of you were raised. Then, measure
that against a biblical understanding of parenting and be prepared to
acknowledge where each must change to conform to Scripture.

One practical way to do
this would be to go through a book like Shepherding
a Child’s Heart
together. Note the biblical principles that are taught and
make four columns for comparison. In the first two columns evaluate the way
each of you were raised in comparison to the principles taught in the book. In
the third column, note how your own parenting compares to the principles
taught. Finally, in the fourth column, indicate how you need to change your
parenting. Then ask God for strength and wisdom to put the fourth column into
practice. Now both spouses can agree about what is important. You will be able
to see in advance where the troubles (or the blessings) will come during your
visit. You can now have a balanced way to anticipate potential problems and how
you will handle them. You will be able to let your kids and their grandparents
know in advance how you will be exercising your responsibilities as parents
during the visit. Remember to c
ommunicate this with grace, understanding, honor,
pleasantness, and firmness.

approach will allow you to reap the benefits of the good things your parents
will do, and it will also counter, at least somewhat, those things that are not
so good. The main benefit of following this plan is not simply to have a better
time with grandparents. The main benefit will be a clearer and more cohesive
approach in your everyday parenting.

Shepherd Press