Here are five things that can make relationships with grandchildren more difficult.
A grandparent who is both smart and kind can use their time with their grandchildren to enrich the lives of both the grandchild and the grandparent-grandchild bond. Like any other connection, that between grandparent and grandchild can be fraught with both obvious and hidden dangers.
It’s not uncommon for grandparents to show favoritism within the family for a variety of reasons. It’s possible they’ve already created a precedent by favoring one child over another, and they’re carrying that poisonous attitude on to their grandchildren. It may be the grandchild who was born first, the one who lives closest, or even a granddaughter or grandson who is more like the grandmother in terms of temperament, personality, or looks. Perhaps the grandmother is having trouble with a grandchild because of the grandchild’s behavior.
It’s easy for grandparents to blame their children or grandchildren for any problems in their relationships, but the best way to set a good example in our relationships is to follow Christ’s example and take personal responsibility for how our words and actions affect those around us.
Our hearts need to be examined, and we need God’s help in figuring out how to actively combat favoritism. We can do this by consistently thanking God for each of our grandchildren and praying for them.
2. Stay away from contrasting situations
Favoritism typically begins with seemingly harmless comparisons and contrasts between your own grandkids and each other, or between your grandchildren and their parents when they were little. You may even be comparing the grandchildren in your life to those of your friends and acquaintances. It may appear like you’re only pointing out personality or achievement disparities, but if you’re not careful, one child may end up being the family scapegoat and another may end up being the favored or golden child.
If a child is constantly compared to others, he or she may come to believe that they will never measure up. As a result, the grandchild may feel unwanted and undervalued, which drives a rift between the two generations. The youngster may interpret the expectation as an unsaid condition for obtaining parental affection.
From James’s description of how one can choose to view a poorly clothed person as inferior than a neatly dressed person to the repeated reminders throughout the New Testament that God made us all uniquely and fairly, the Bible makes it very obvious that comparison is a dangerous trap.
The ability to appreciate our grandchildren for who they are as individuals is hindered by the tendency to constantly compare them to one another. It lessens our appreciation for God’s marvelous variety and originality in crafting each individual human being. Finally, comparison lacks redemptive vision since its judgment presupposes knowledge of the outcome for the one it weighs against.
When praying for their grandkids, godly grandparents might ask to see them in a new light, through the eyes of Christ, which can help them build a deeper bond with them. Grandparents can choose to put Philippians 4:8 into reality by looking for the good in their grandkids and encouraging them to see the God-given qualities in themselves and others.
3. Embarrassing the Ones They Love and the Things They Hold Dear
There is a wide variety of grandparenting situations, grandkids, and grandkids’ hobbies, abilities, and ages.
We are establishing a bond as Christian grandparents that we pray will survive us. We hope that our grandchildren will always remember how much we adore them and how much we cared about them from the time they were infants all the way until the day they got married and started a family of their own.
And if we’re lucky, we have front-row seats to all the stages of their lives. We must not treat their concerns with indifference or criticism, nor should we treat this matter flippantly. They should treat their parents with respect and show it in all they do. When the family unit is broken, this can be very trying, but it also provides a striking chance for the grandparent to provide a good example in terms of love by choosing to honor the people our grandkids care about.
This triumph in interpersonal relations generalizes to consideration of other people’s likes and dislikes in more concrete ways, such as their tastes in food and clothing. Our grandkids grow closer to us when we treat them with curiosity and an open mind. The grandchild may feel shamed and misunderstood, and the connection may suffer as a result of the grandparent’s critical and judgmental attitude.
Grandparents who value their relationships with their grandkids should listen carefully for hints about what their grandchildren consider important in life. Grandchildren want to know that the adults in their lives are accessible, trustworthy resources of knowledge and friendship, and that they will be seen and heard.
4. Lack of Follow-Through
Whenever I tell my almost-3-year-old granddaughter that I’ll be doing something nice for her, she never forgets. Now that summer has here, Sophia has been wondering when we will put together her kiddie pool. There is a palpable sense of spring in the air, and she understands that if I say I’m going to do something, I’ll do my best to actually do it.
I promise this to all of my grandkids. Intentionally taking my words into account is the first step, followed by the realization that what I say becomes a commitment. This way of thinking respects the significance of a straightforward yes or no, and it is in line with God’s faithfulness to us as revealed in the Bible.
Keeping our word to our grandchildren requires us to not only think carefully about what we say, but also to make sure we have an open line of contact with their parents. Your grandchildren may suffer if you make promises that go against your children’s values and parenting preferences.
Knowing your limitations can help you avoid making promises you can’t keep and will allow you to say “no” instead of “yes” when making commitments.
5. Inability to say sorry
There will always be fights and misunderstandings in a family. The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is no exception. One of the most tragic and faith-damaging things we can do is refuse to apologize to our grandchildren for hurting them.
We may “ooh” and “ahh” when we hold our grandchild for the first time, but like any other person, we will make mistakes, fail, and display character faults that still need to be transformed. Lack of remorse belies the fact that we are sinful, helpless creatures in need of Jesus.
Apologizing to younger people and being honest about our shortcomings may feel humiliating, but it’s actually a great chance to show the humility of Jesus and model genuine humanity. The trust and openness of communication that we acquire may not make up for the seeming loss of authority.
Watch Out for Those Traps
As with parenting, becoming a grandparent isn’t something that typically comes with a how-to guide. Although much of what we acquired from our parents can be useful, we may also need to relearn other things.
Each of us is bound to experience more intense feelings toward one of our grandchildren at some point. It’s natural to reflect on our own experiences as parents and the principles and practices we relied on. It’s possible that our grandchildren will become a source of identity for us. These are all perfectly natural responses, so long as we take the time to reflect on their worthiness and invite God into our grandparenting to make it a redemptive, loving, and transformative experience for both generations.
Psalm 139:23–24 is a reflective prayer written by the psalmist as he sought to better know himself and God. “O God, search my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Examine me to see whether I have any sinful tendencies, and then show me the path to eternal life.
When we consider the values and paradigms we bring into the context of becoming a grandmother, we can discover advantage in partnering together with the Spirit of God. A profound and persistent union with Christ should be our major focus as grandparents if we are to best reflect Christ in our lives and the lives of our grandchildren.