In the midst of Thanksgiving weekend festivities, I am reminded of the words of a wise older friend: "Extended family is the crucible where our sins are ground out and exposed...always plenty of opportunities for repentance during a family reunion!"
How many of you can relate to this scenario - You try to be a deliberate, conscientious parent, with rules and standards of behavior for your children, rules intended for their health, happiness, and spiritual growth. Then, you pack the family off to the grandparents' house for the holidays, where it is officially announced upon your arrival by a respected member of the older generation, "None of your Mom's rules apply at Grandma's house!"
I have a friend who is eagerly anticipating her first grandchild. This friend has commented on several occasions how she plans to "spoil this baby rotten", adding that she's not ever going to discipline her grandkids. Parenting her own children was hard work. For her, this baby is going to be all about happy times and having fun. And if he gets cranky or unpleasant, she'll just pack him back off to his parents.
Now, I can understand the sentiment behind these comments. Parenting IS hard work, and it's fun to think about having a fresh new generation to enjoy without quite so much pressure and responsibility. But, grandparents who indulge in such selfish, unscriptural behavior do a huge disservice to themselves, their adult children, and their precious grandchildren.
When Israel stood on the brink of the Promised Land, after 40 years of wandering around in the wilderness as punishment for their earlier disobedience, Moses reminded the people of their covenant with the Holy, Sovereign God who ruled them. Commanding them to obedience, Moses said, "Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children...." (Deut. 4:9)
I am at the stage of life where my children are mostly grown, just beginning to leave the nest. My job as a parent is in many ways much easier now than when my kids where younger and parenting was more labor intensive. Truthfully, I have thought to myself, "Hey, I'm almost done! WooHoo! In another couple of years, my hard work of training the next generation will be over, and I can finally start doing some things for me!" But the passage from Deuteronomy hit me like a slap of cold water recently, as I considered the delightful possibility of having my own grandchildren in the not-too-distant-future. I am not almost done - my work has just begun!
God doesn't command parents to "train up" their children....and then clock out for early retirement. He commands us to train up our children....and then train up our children's children. This does not mean that my role as a grandparent will be the same as that of a parent. But it does mean that I will be more concerned about the salvation and spiritual growth of my grandkids than I will be about whether or not they think Grandma is a fairy god mother who makes all their wishes come true. God commands children to honor their parents - as a grandparent, I should be deliberate about encouraging my grandchildren to keep that command. My relationship with my grandkids should never undermine the authority and responsibility of their own mom and dad.
And so, yes, I've had to repent of the desire to "be done" with this parenting thing, to shift from hard work to party mode. I do think grandparenting will be a delight, and I hope my future grandkids will think of me, my home, and my relationship with them with pleasure. But, I also have a responsibility to lace the parties at this grandma's house with instruction, training, and much prayer. Scripture encourages me - obedience to the calling to train my children, and my children's children, will honor God and will bless my children and grandchildren.
I want my grandkids to know that Grandma loves them, but that God loves them infinitely more. That I desire their company, but that God so desires them that He pursues them and woos them even across a chasm of sin. More than a weekend at Grandma's, I want my grandchildren to eagerly anticipate a family reunion with Jesus. Bring on the grandbabies - I'm ready to bake cookies, and to talk about the feast and the fellowship that await in Glory!
3 months ago