Grandparents involvement in child rearing

Often I will pick up the counseling phone and hear something like, “I am upset with the way my daughter (or son) is raising my grandchildren. What should I do?” Of course, this question and brief statement must be followed up with a good many details in order for me to know what advice to give.

One thing stands out in the way the question is phrased. It is the emphasis on these being “my grandchildren.” While there is an emphasis in scripture on the role of grandparents, like 2 Timothy 1:5 “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also,” the primary responsibility for raising children and disciplining them is vested in the parents, not the grandparents. Most wise parents will put into practice the techniques of child rearing that their parents used on them. However, there will be times when ideas and techniques will differ. It is at that time that grandparents need to yield the right of way, unless what the parents are doing is definitely against the teaching of the Bible.

The role of a grandparent is much more passive than the role of the parent. Since we have very few examples of the active interaction of grandparents and grandchildren that lead to good results, and since God has no grandchildren, only children, we must realize that God intends for the parents to bear the primary responsibility for disciplining and raising their children. Grandparents should be ready to give advice — when it is asked for, or when it is necessary to keep the parents from violating scripture. Otherwise, remain silent. When advice to parents is given, it should be given in private, in love, and with the children absent from the meeting.

If you are a grandparent, remember: Your children are your investment, your grandchildren are the dividends on that investment. Pray for them and love them.

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