Grandmotherly Temptations

I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t look forward to grand-kids. And, I have to say, it is even better than they all say it is. For the past ten years or so we have had a baby or two to love on, and it has been very kind of God to give us another dose of babies after we have seen our own grow up. And after the baby stage, it keeps getting better.

But anyway. Despite the glory and joy of it all, grandmothers are still prone to fleshly temptations, just like we were when we weren’t grandmas. Big news, I know. If only the gray hair would bring perfection with it, wouldn’t that be nice? But, sorry to say, so far it hasn’t for me or anyone else I know.

So I am about to address one of those fleshly temptations, one that I have heard about quite a bit from young mothers, and I have seen first hand. It is this: grandparents hate to see their little adorable grandchildren receive correction and discipline from their parents. I’m not sure why it is so hard for grandparents, especially Christian grandparents, who really do believe what the Bible says about a father disciplining the child he loves.

But, sad to say, it is common for young parents to feel very jumpy when the grandparents come for a visit because they have to brace themselves for a barrage of criticism about how they are raising (correcting, teaching, disciplining) their children. And funny how it happens that the two-year old decides to branch out into some very naughty behavior while the grandparents are at close (and critical) range to observe.

Now I am not saying that all parents are doing a spectacular job, and therefore grandparents should just chill. But usually it is the young parents who are humbly and diligently training and correcting their children who get in the most trouble from the grandparents. Years ago some friends told us that the grandparents had gotten on their case whenever they had to discipline their kids. And the grandparents said something like this: “We can’t believe you discipline your kids. They are the best grand-kids we have!” And the parents were saying, “Exactly!”

So my point here is to say that grandmothers need to exercise wisdom. Though it may be tugging your heartstrings when the three-year old is receiving (well earned) correction, it is wise not to give way to it. How much better to be a source of encouragement to our children as we see them earnestly trying to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Of course I have to make one qualification here. If something ungodly really is going on in the way your grandchildren are being brought up, then I am certainly not saying here that grandmothers can do nothing. I can imagine all kinds of scenarios where godly grandparents should and must speak to their kids. What I am addressing here is grandmothers being critical every time the two-year old gets his hand flicked for pulling his sister’s hair. Or arguing with the parents when they won’t let the grandchildren see a certain movie or eat a snack right before dinner. That is simply interfering and causes hard feelings all around.

One of my grandsons went through a stage of “flopping.” If he didn’t like what he was told to do, he would collapse on the floor. I remember his father carrying him down the hall (with loud wailing) and thinking “I bless you, my son-in-law! I want good grandchildren!” And the flopping halted because of a loving father’s consistent and kind discipline.

It is hard enough in this modern world to be a consistent Christian parent. So the least we grandparents can do is back our kids up, praying for them, praising them, and biting our tongues when necessary. If we do that, our kids will feel far more comfortable having us around, and they will feel far more at liberty to ask for our advice and help.

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11 thoughts on “Grandmotherly Temptations

  1. Amen Nancy! I am the missionary wife of a pastor in South Africa…and I am so blessed to have a mom who is a godly grandmother to her little ones. Though we don’t see her as often as we so long to, I know she is praying for us and our little ones. And what is such a major source of encouragement to us in the ministry here is the influence she has in her calls….or those desperate calls of mine just for mom to remind me that we are doing right giving all those corrections that seem like they will never stop, end or work!
    A godly grandmother is a Proverbs 31 woman, “More precious than rubies.” How I thank God for that woman in my life!

  2. Sometimes the temptation leans the other way and grandparents (who were very strict parents) don’t think that the grandkids are being disciplined enough.

  3. I’ve have been wonderfully blessed by neither my mother nor my mother-in-law criticizing us as we make decisions for our one ex-utero, one in-utero little ones.

  4. Maybe if I could tip my mom upside down and spin her around singing “AAAAAALLLLL FORGIVEN!!!” after we have to spank one of her darling grandchildren, it would cheer her heart as well? ๐Ÿ™‚ Okay, so I can’t really do that (not enough time in the gym these past 5 years, perhaps?) Any suggestions for those of us moms (& dads) who find ourselves at the receiving end of those critically tempted but well-meaning grandmothers?

  5. I agree with Mandi – in my experience, I have to exercise that self-control over temptation to correct and “guide” the grandchild. It’s just as hard. We raised them to be adults, though, and we have to let go and trust God to redeem the situation.

  6. This has nothing to do with your post, but I just had to pass along this little story. This morning I was reviewing some letters and sounds with my 5 and 3 year old daughters, and we got to the letter U. I asked my 5 year old if she could think of any words that had a “u” sound in them and she said “dug”. My 3 year old piped up, “Yes, like Doug Wilson!” ! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

  7. Hah! I had a flopper, too. And we dealt with it in much the same way. Now that he’s 15, I can’t remember the last time he did it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    And I notice the temptation in myself, not even as a grandparent yet, but as one who is past the toddler stage with my children — I tend to think all the younger parents are being “too strict” with their kids, though God has graciously prevented me from opening my trap about it. There are two things I have to remember. One, I was harder on my first than the others, relaxing a bit and gaining a bit of wisdom as I got older, but the first does not seem any the worse for it. Second, I think most of us tend to view other people’s kids either as darlings or holy terrors — we aren’t as clear-sighted as the people to whom God has actually given the responsibility and grace to raise them. So, it seems “mean” to us to see someone else discipline her “darling” children, whereas if it were us, and our children, we’d probably see it as needful in the same situation.

  8. Thank you, Nancy, for this! So, is there any way that we can get it off Femina and post it somewhere like Yahoo or Google’s homepage where all of our grandparents my “accidentally” stumble on it?

  9. I have to agree with pentamom about a skewed view of our own kids. I am shocked sometimes to realize that what I see as adorable in another 3-year old, for example, I find completely embarassing or correction-worthy in my own. Sometimes I’m being too hard on my own child, and sometimes too easy on others (or sometimes both). I need to check my heart constantly.

    I also need to check my heart contantly with my mother and mother-in-law. Both sets of parents (one Christian, the other not) are the gracious, non-meddling sort. But both think we are too hard on our children. So sometimes I find myself feeling very defensive around them when I apply correction, and sometimes I neglect correction in order to avoid their discomfort.

    Part of the problem is that nobody wants to talk about it. We all think we should avoid discussion — they don’t want to ask questions about our thinking on certain matters, and we don’t want to have to provide answers. I actually think this situation is more painful than would be the pain of working through it!

  10. I’m with Billie – I’d love to hear gracious suggestions for these types of situations…and maybe to a slightly wider audience (lots of wonderful, well-meaning “grandmas” at church for our pastor’s-kid children).

  11. Our daughter has a very strong willed child that, at times, I felt they disciplined too hard. But I held my tongue. That boy has turned out to be the most wonderful, helpful teenager and a joy to be around! They now have another strong-willed child, and when my daughter gets tired of the battle, I encourage her to remember the blessing her older one is.

    The children are taught to obey Grandma and Grandpa, too. I try to uphold the parents’ standard if I see behavior that needs to be corrected, so the kids know that it’s not just mom and dad that think that way. And I refer them back to a parent if permission is needed for something like watching a movie or taking a walk. I think this helps the kids realize to whom God has given the final authority in these matters.

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