In our first exclusive Grandparent blog post, we talked about showing God’s grace to our grandkids. Over the next several months, we’ll be using the Legacy Coalition, “My Declaration” for Grandparents to unpack key ideas in being a grandparent who will guide their grandchildren to know and love Jesus by example.
Today’s topic is respecting parent roles. You don’t need someone to tell you that the role of grandparent is very different from the role of parent. But HOW is it different? What are the expectations? Are there things grandparents should not do? Are there lines that should not be crossed? Do grandparents have “rights” AND responsibilities? If so, how do they correlate?
When my children were first born, we did not think about having these kinds of conversations with grandparents. We talked about what they wanted to be called (“Grammy” or “Nana”; “Pop-pop” or “Grandad”). We talked about when they could visit or when they would be needed to babysit. Our families fared just fine, but what a gift it would be to have these more important conversations with the hope of avoiding any landmines or pitfalls later in the parent/grandparent relationship!
You’ve raised your child(ren) and now they are on their own parenting journey. Up to this point in their life, I feel confident they have not made all of their decisions precisely the way you had hoped they would. They probably let you down, took a wrong turn, maybe even had a situation or two when you had to come to the rescue.
Now you get to watch them do that all over again. Only now those decisions and mistakes affect your precious grandbaby! (Gasp!) It might make your temperature rise even reading that. Especially if you’ve watched decisions already affect your grandchildren in a way that you don’t approve of, this statement: “respect parent roles” is a crucial one. Grandparents must understand their place in the parent-child relationship and live accordingly.
If you have a good relationship with your child and you can have a conversation early on in your grandparenting about how THEY hope that relationship will look, do it! If you’re farther down the road and you need to do some mending and forgiving because of role conflict, do it!
Your children AND their children need you in their lives. You can always pray. You can always support. You can always stay connected with letters, gifts, phone calls, and visits as long as this has not been a source of tension in the past. I’ve heard the expression “Better to ask forgiveness than permission.” Frankly, I’ve always thought this as foolish, because it’s hard to imagine an expression that smacks more of pride than that one. I would say grandparents should live by the opposite code: “Better to ask permission than forgiveness.”
Don’t do damage to your relationship with your children or grandchildren because you thought you deserve a certain type of grandparent privilege. Respect the parent’s role. Show them your support in ways that are meaningful to THEM and be a source of encouragement, love, and grace.
How have you been successful in respecting your child’s role as parent? Where are areas you need to grow? Pray. Love. And if needed, ask for forgiveness today.