Rich and Our Grandson Ayden on Our Wedding Day. September 2, 2007.
One of the oddities of becoming a grandparent is that sometimes, your (adult) children tell you what to do. And sometimes that thing they tell you to do is not what you want to do. How do you sort out the best course of action?
Last week, we launched a discussion about grandparents, parents, and children and about all the different kinds of bows (or knots!) that form family ties here in the early decades of the twenty-first century. It seems the range of ribbons and ropes shaping extended families has never been so broad as it is today. I shared an experience from my own adventures in Lala Land (my grandlittles call me Lala). I wrote:
A few years ago, one of our grandchildren committed a significant breach of the rules at his school. And as it happened, he executed the serious infraction just a week or two before his birthday. His mom told us: “He forfeits his birthday this year. No presents!”
Prior to this unfortunate event, Rich and I had discussed our purpose as grandparents. After a few heart-to-heart talks and prayerful consideration, we came up with a guiding principle:
As long as our children are fit as parents, our most important job as grandparents is to support them in the decisions they make as parents. Sounds pretty simple, straightforward, and sensible, doesn’t it?
Yeah, we thought so too.
So you can imagine my surprise when the first thought that formed upon hearing this announcement was We’re his grandparents and we’ll give him gifts whenever we want to!
I managed to stifle that thought before it grew words and flew out of my mouth, thankfully. Instead I said I’m so sorry this has happened. May we send him a card?
It hurt to refrain from offering the boy a birthday gift. But undermining his parents’ disciplinary actions would have been a big mistake.
Demonstrating that we do not respect his parents’ authority in their family is, in our view, a grave error.
How about you? Grandparents, have you been in the position to either support or disregard your children’s parental choices? What happened?
Parents, do your own parents and your in-laws support your decisions as parents? Are there changes you would welcome in that element of your family life?
Looking back to your own childhood, were you ever in a position to pit your parents against your grandparents? How did that work out?
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
2 Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;
3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:1-4 (KJV)
Something New: On Tuesdays, we’ll be talking about families and the joys and challenges that arise when we stretch across three (or more?) generations (child, parent, grandparent). The conversation began last week and we’ll continue until we run out of things to say. Everyone is welcome, and I hope to hear from each generation’s perspective. I’m a grandmother now (praise be to God!), but I’m still a parent, and I’m still a child (my father is still living). And I remember my childhood, which included four loving grandparents.
Please join us.