One of my biggest responsibilities as a grandparent is supporting my kids as they raise their own children. That means not to argue about their family rules or to make comments about those rules. Because my kids and their spouses all love the Lord and desire to make their daily decisions based on His Word, my support is especially valuable as a back up to what they’re saying to their kids.
And sometimes the need for that support appears in unexpected ways.
My two oldest grandchildren are just 7 weeks apart in age. They only get to see each other two or three times a year. One lives close to me. One lives a few hundred miles away. I spend time with both of them and know their families and their rules quite well.
When the girls were ten, I was driving them somewhere. They were sitting in the back seat happily chatting when one of them said, “What should we do when we get back to Grandma’s house?”
“We could paint our fingernails,” said granddaughter #1. “I just got some new polish.”
I listened carefully because I know granddaughter #2 wasn’t allowed to wear polish. Her parents didn’t want her using any kind of makeup until she was older.
“I can’t,” said #2.
“Why not?” #1 didn’t understand.
“My parents don’t want me wearing polish until I’m in middle school.”
Obviously her cousin didn’t get it. I also knew the conversation could quickly escalate into something like, “Well, that’s silly. I’m glad I don’t have your parents.” I didn’t want it to go there. I didn’t want the girls disrespecting either their parents or their uncles and aunts.
I joined the conversation. “You know, girls, parents have their own rules for their own families and they have reasons for those rules. #2’s parents don’t want her wearing fingernail polish, but you know what? She’s allowed to bike around the neighborhood by herself.” (I knew that was something #1 wished she could do, but couldn’t.) “So sometimes you might be allowed to do something your cousin can’t do and that’s okay, because that’s what your parents decided. The important thing is obeying what your parents tell you.”
The girls giggled. “I can do some things and you can do some things,” #1 said.
“I can’t do some things and you can’t do some things,” #2 agreed.
“Now,” I smiled. “Let’s all agree that we should stop for some ice cream.”
And that was that.
As grandparents, we don’t always need to intercede, but we do need to be aware of what’s being said and help when needed; lovingly and prayerfully backing up and supporting the rules our kids make for their own kids.
Linda is the author of thirteen books, and several hundred short stories and articles. For the past twenty-three years she has worked at Awana as a writer. She is the mom of two grown kids and six keeping-life-interesting grandkids.