For years people told me, “I know you love your kids, but just wait until you have grandchildren!”

They promised, “There’s nothing better than a sweet smelling grandbaby!”

They boasted, and gushed, and pulled out the baby pictures.

To a person, the grandparents I met were seriously in love with their grandkids and now, as a grandparent myself, I totally understand. There’s just something so neat and special about seeing the image of your baby in the face of a new and precious grandchild.

I think that’s why it’s so hard to watch our grown children make decisions for our grandchildren that quite frankly, we just don’t agree with. When we see them choosing to over-discipline, or under-discipline, or just plain wrongly discipline, it’s so tempting to want to step in and tell them exactly how it should be done. After all, our grandchildren’s well being is at stake!

Regardless of how tempting such intervention seems to be… We must resist the temptation!

We simply cannot and must not interject ourselves into our grown children’s parenting decisions.

When we allow ourselves the freedom to offer unwanted advice and criticism, we will build barriers of hurt and mistrust. Instead of seeking us out as valued counselors, our children will begin to avoid us and they may even limit our time with the grandchildren. What “innocently” began with good intentions can quickly spiral out of control and become a sour situation.

We have counseled far too many young adults who are struggling with over-controlling grandparents. On the other side of the coin, we’ve counseled hurting grandparents who have been denied access to their grandchildren because of strife with their own children.

What a sad state of affairs, especially for Christian families!

We, who are older and wiser, should have great wisdom to share with our children when it comes to raising the grandchildren. The issue isn’t the amount of wisdom we possess, but the manner in which we share that wisdom. Even though we’ve raised our children and can still remember when we had to bathe them, and feed them, and change their diapers doesn’t give us the license to micro-manage their parenting choices.

What it does give us is the unique opportunity to be our own children’s greatest cheerleaders and advocates in the parenting process!

Think back to your own days of parenting. I don’t know about you, but for me there were plenty of opportunities for discouragement. Long days, short nights, disobedient children, and endless physical demands all conspired to steal my joy and leave me downcast and exhausted. What a difference just a little encouragement would have made during those tiring years of parenting.

You can provide that encouragement for your kids! Instead of focusing on the things you think they’re doing wrong with their children (your grandchildren) find ways to praise them for the good choices they’re making.

Tell them how proud you are of how tenderly they love and care for their children. 

Point out the positive behavior you see exhibited in the grandkid’s lives. 

Ask how you can come alongside them and help, rather than informing them of how you’d do things differently.

Share with the grandchildren just how neat their parents are and what a good job you think they are doing.

When we take the time to build up our own children as they parent their children, we’ll watch our relationship with them blossom and grow. Instead of being perceived as an adversary, we’ll soon be one of our children’s most trusted counselors. Instead of avoiding time with us, our kids will look for opportunities to include us in their family events.

When we prove our faith in them by consistently trusting their parenting choices, our children won’t feel the need to defend themselves from us, but instead will be free to entrust themselves and their children to us.

When we make ourselves available, but then wait patiently for our children to ask for advice before offering it, we will build trust. Once that solid foundation of trust is in place, we will have opportunities to share counsel and advice in a way that it will be accepted and appreciated.

Regardless of how much we claim to love our grandchildren, if we set ourselves up as adversaries who are opposed to their parents, we will do more harm than good. But when we come alongside their parents and act as helpers and partners in the child training process, we’ll become invaluable and irreplaceable.

Invaluable and irreplaceable grandparents will have the joy of sharing sweet relationships with both their own children and with those precious, lovable grandchildren!