The following is a transcript of the audio. The transcript has been edited for clarity.
Emily: Welcome back to Risen Motherhood. Emily and Laura here, excited to do Part 2 of the Grandparents Show.
Laura: Here we go. This is the “big beast” part of the show. I feel like we are tackling a little bit of the tougher side, but I think it’ll be good.
Emily: Just as a reminder last week, we talked about where we place our identity and wanting to put that in Christ, and then how our identity impacts our response to grandparent relationships. So if you haven’t heard it, definitely go back and listen because that’s what we’re building off of, and I feel like you can’t quite jump into some of these principles without having thought about the log in your own eye first.
Laura: Just as a friendly reminder, most of you guys know, but we are sister-in-laws, which means that we share grandparents. My parents are Emily’s in-laws. Many of our children’s grandparents listen to the show. Again, what we’re talking about today are a lot of hypotheticals that you all shared with us on Instagram, you had a lot of really great examples that helped us get things going. Just know that we’re not getting super personal because we want to protect our own relationships with our in-laws as well.
Emily: Principle number one. [laughter]
Laura: Protect the family relationship.[laughter]
Emily: Another thing we just want to mention really quick because this show is going to get into a little bit more of practical principles, is that we cannot speak into the details of every specific situation. We know that there are legitimate, hard, scary things that happen in grandparent-grandchild relationships and that there are things that take serious consideration and counsel from others. We want to encourage you to let this get the ball rolling, and maybe it’ll trigger an idea. But in the end, you probably need to bring in somebody who is wiser, that can counsel you and that knows your situation.
Laura: Someone that’s wiser than us.
Emily: Yes, way wiser than us, [laughter] lived a little bit longer, has kids that are a little bit older. Our hope is to share some of the things we’ve learned as we’ve walked through relationships with grandparents.
Laura: And just a quick recap of last week’s show, when we have the gospel in mind to our responses, we know that we don’t have to be threatened by other people, we don’t have to be threatened by a mother-in-law, or our own parents. But a mom who’s remembering the gospel is going to be humble, quiet-spirited, patient, wise, and desire to honor her children’s grandparents as she lays down her own pride and control because she trusts in the Lord. This week we’ll get down into that nitty-gritty practical, but first, we’re going to talk through a little bit of the gospel. We cannot have Risen Motherhood without the gospel, so we’re going to talk about, what does the gospel have to do with grandparents and relationships?
Emily: We know that God originally created relationships to be peaceful and whole and to be rooted and grounded in Him. In the garden, Adam and Eve loved one another well, and they didn’t use one another for their own means and ends until sin entered. Then relationships were broken. That wasn’t just the marriage relationship; that was also parent to child, generation to generation. You see all of those types of family stories – just skim through the Old Testament and you’ll see all kinds of messed up things that families are dealing with: divorce, re-marriage, single parents, early deaths of parents. All of those things can really infiltrate relationships and they’re all broken by sin.
Laura: But because of Christ’s sacrifice, and because of His love for us, we know that we can pour that out to others, even when people are acting unlovable. The thing we want to remember here is that the person and work of Jesus Christ should motivate our behaviors to love our in-laws and to love our own parents unconditionally.
A lot of these things that we’re talking about are grey areas. A lot of the frustration points we have with grandparents are of some importance, but they’re not of ultimate importance, and they aren’t our identity. We can remember that even if a grandparent wants us to do things differently, or suggests different ways, or whatever they’re doing, their actions or words are not where we find our hope. Their approval of us isn’t ultimately where our identity is; because of Christ’s sacrifice we can now live with a secure identity before the throne, knowing that as we trust and walk with the Lord, we’re in secure communion with Him and that our responses don’t have to rise or fall depending on how grandma or grandpa did that day.
Emily: Something we mentioned on the last show that’s worth bringing up again is how much grace costs; it is really costly. If you look in the Old Testament, all the bloodiness of the sacrifice and the hundreds of thousands of millions of animals that had to be killed for the ceremonial laws to be fulfilled –hen you look at Christ having to die for our sins. We have to remember that grace, in these relationships, is going to cost us something too and like Laura said, the motivation for that is because we know how much we’ve been forgiven, and how costly that was.
Laura: Because of the sacrifice too, we can encourage the differences that our children’s grandparents bring to the table. We don’t have to see their differences as barriers anymore, but opportunities for us to learn and grow in our role as mothers, and as people who can see beyond the differences.One thing that Emily and I talk about is that, because both of us have believing parents, that shows our kids that everybody has a unique and individual relationship with Christ, and they can see the different ways that that plays out. It’s not just mom and dad’s faith, it’s also grandma and grandpas, and it looks different for them. They can say, “I can have my own unique, special relationship with Jesus Christ too,” because they’re seeing it lived out in multiple people, beyond just hearing it from you. It’s really a huge blessing if you have believing grandparents. That’s something to be grateful for.
Emily: The main thing we want to bring out in this show and the way the gospel applies is: Your kids’ grandparents are like your neighbors. Love your neighbor well – this is part of the great commission and they are part of that. Care about their interests, be willing to lay down your own agenda before the throne of God, and treat others with grace and kindness. Now that gets into the nitty-gritty, like practically, what does that look like? It’s hard.
Laura: We’re calling them “principles.” Emily and I don’t like the word “practical” because we feel like, “We don’t really know what we’re doing.” [laughter]
Basically, a big principle to remember is that your children are your children. If we look at Ephesians 6: 1– 4, it tells us that it’s our job to raise our children and instruct them in the way that they should go. So ultimately, this is good news because that means we don’t have to listen to our mother’s or our mother-in-law’s advice on how to raise our child. You and your husband do ultimately have the final say. While you’re supposed to honor your parents, you do not have to obey them anymore.
Emily: Yes, and remembering our allegiance is to Christ as it says, “You should hate everyone else including your family in comparison to how much you love Christ.” So together with our husbands, we get an opportunity to set the boundaries and the guidelines for our family, and to uphold those. The kicker is – again, going back to the last episode, we don’t do that to spite the grandparents, or to punish the grandparents because they’re not doing what we want. We do that because we’ve genuinely decided that’s what’s best for our family.
Laura: That’s a tricky line, you’ve got to be careful. [laughter] So in general, we want to always remember to let our words and actions be seasoned with grace. This goes back to the idea that we were just talking about, of honoring your mother and father, and your husband’s mother and father. But also knowing that you don’t have to obey them, you’re not under that any longer. So think through your speech and actions, modeling wise behavior, because your own children are watching. And someday, you’ll probably think, “I want to be honored still.” [laughter] Your children are watching you, so it’s really important you’re modeling those behaviors today because they’re going to do that to you in thirty years or something. [laughter]
Emily: Some of the ways we can honor grandparents is to value the relationship, and whether that’s if you live really close to them – I literally live right next door to a set of grandparents, and not very far from the others – and being intentional about honouring those relationships and spending time together in healthy ways. Or if you live further away from them like Laura does – maybe she can share a few examples.
Laura: It’s an interesting and different dynamic that one has, whether you live in town versus out of town. I know we’ve really had to really make the connections really important and intentional with our children’s grandparents. I have to work pretty hard at them, so we’d call and FaceTime, we’d do Voxer. Or my kids will color a picture and we’ll mail it to grandma and grandpa. There are a lot of touch points that I want my kids to have with their grandparents, but I have to work hard at them. But Emily, something you’ve talked about with being nearby is not feeling like, “Here’s the rules,” or delivering rule after rule after rule.
Emily: Yes, like making sure grandparents can be grandparents. That’s hopefully one way we can honor them because we live so close, and we do so much life with them, it’s important that we still allow a lot of those fun connections, and some of those organic interactions to happen. We don’t want it to be like, “Can you help us with childcare 24/7 and take all of our burdens?” We want to have that attitude of prioritizing the relationship.
Laura: Also, being really grateful for the things they do well. So a lot of times we can all think of the things where we’re like, “I really wish this area would be improved,” or “I wish, hey would listen to me on that.” But one thing we want to always do with any relationship – but particularly with grandparents – is affirm them in those areas they do well. Instead of focusing on all the negative things, find those things that your children’s grandparents are doing well, and vocalize it. Write it in a note, or have your child sing them a little song or something like that. It’s a huge gift that you have parents or in-laws that are involved in your child’s life, and so you want to take that time to pay them a compliment, and it helps give them confidence. Really, telling them that you like something, helps them want to keep doing it more.
Emily: Yes. Practically, it just re-enforces the good things. Our kids’ grandparents are sometimes strong in areas that my husband and I are weak. So they give our kids experiences that we aren’t giving them for whatever reason. Just see those areas where you guys can overlap together to train the children well.
Laura: Okay, we’re getting into a little bit [laughter] of the battles. I think we talked about this on our last show, but a lot of those things are just disputable matters or grey areas; they’re of some value, of some importance, but they are not the ultimate. We always want to keep that proper perspective. And I know I sometimes I have made big deals out of things that shouldn’t have been.
Emily: Yes; like the next day they didn’t matter. Or like three years, five years, ten years later they just don’t matter anymore.
Laura: Yes, like it can feel like a really big deal to follow a sleep schedule. I am trying to think of some small things, I think we can all think of them – like making sure they drink the proper ounces from a bottle maybe or are wearing warm enough clothes, that they’re getting the right bedtimes as a toddler – different things like that. We want to be careful about what kind of battles we choose because you want them to be more about spiritual things or real safety issues.
If you’re making a battle over every little thing, it’s going to be much more difficult for the grandparent to adhere your advice and be ready to listen because they can feel like you’re nit-picking them. I know that is something that I fall into even now where I feel like, “I just want them to get a healthy meal,” or, “We’re going to need to have a massive detox after this.” [laughter] It can be really hard to separate long-lasting things and short-term things that we see.
Emily: It is really hard, and whenever we have these battles too, we have to honor the grandparents as we approach this subject. A lot of that goes back to again to show one - looking at our own hearts, looking at our own motives, trying to do everything we can upfront, to prepare our children well for whatever the thing is they’re going to come up against. It’s communicating well with our husband so we have a plan. It’s being proactive and all of those good things so that if and when something does have to be brought up, which hopefully shouldn’t be all of the time, it can be taken seriously and heeded, and they feel loved, even if they don’t understand why you brought that thing up, or they’re hurt by it in some way.
Laura: Something too that Emily and I were both laughing about is that you get better at having a relationship with grandparents. You get better; the first child is always a little bit wonky and everyone’s adjusting to new rules. You’re trying to figure out, “What are my boundaries? How do I draw them? How do I keep a good relationship?” But also figure out how you can both feel loved and respected, and you’re just not sure a lot of time how to do that.
Emily: Or like, “How do I talk to my husband about something that happened with his mom?” There’s just a ton of dynamics to figure out, especially if you have the first grandchild in the family. [laughs]
Laura: If you have siblings who have gone before you, thank them. [laughter] Give them a big “Thank you.” I have given my big brothers a thank you because I know that they have paved the way. I’ve reaped some benefit from them.
Emily: We want to encourage you guys although we’re not very far along on this journey – I have a five-year-old; that’s my oldest.
Laura: Mine’s four.
Emily: I feel like we’ve already gotten better, my husband and I, at just navigating some of these things. It just doesn’t feel like quite as big of a deal as it did earlier on. Even then, I look back and like, I don’t think that those things were that big of a deal, but they felt like it. It felt real, it feels really hard, and really hurtful, and it just takes time pressing through, and trying to do things that are renewing your identity in Christ, and then approaching the situation based on that, and trying to love and honor grandparents. It reaps a lot of good fruit in the long-term.
Laura: Something else we’ve heard from some of you, that there are some really difficult situations that, maybe your child has special needs and they need medication, and maybe your grandparent is just forgetting to give it to them, or for some reason or another, they’re unable to execute that. Maybe their health isn’t good enough to take care of the kids, but they don’t really get it. There could be a multitude of reasons, and we want to first say, we can’t speak into every situation because we need to have thousands of cups of coffee with all of you to hear everything and understand. [laughter]
So we want to encourage you that if you’re dealing with a really difficult situation, one thing I heard from another wise mom, she said, “I had to learn to be okay with not everything being okay.” That sometimes there are situations where you’re going to misunderstand each other, and that you are going to have to say, “My husband and I have evaluated this and we’ve talked about this. We’re on the same page where we believe that before the Lord, we have thought this through with pure motives, and here is where our boundary line is.” You have to be okay with them not understanding that, or maybe not being okay with it. But you have to have safety for your child in place.
Emily: Yes, that’s one of the things that the gospel frees us to do, is being in situations where the circumstances haven’t cleared themselves up yet. God does not promise us the answer to every problem is going to be, “I just fix it.” We have to learn, in everything in life, to live in this tension where we’re walking, Lord willing, according to the Spirit, in hard situations. That is just as much a picture of the gospel, even more so sometimes than the situation getting cleared up. It’s definitely real; it’s definitely hard to be in those ongoing situations. But God can give grace for that...
Laura: We encourage you to get with other women who can hear you and give you sound, biblical advice for a lot of your situation, because those are real realities, and we don’t want to undermine that. We know we’ve been really blessed with healthy relationships with our children’s grandparents. But we want to encourage you that if you are in that place that is a very difficult spot, there is gospel-hope for that as well.
Emily: Another thing is just being unified with your husband; that’s a good point to bring up. Here, I know that sometimes when it’s your parents versus their parents, all of those things can get dramatic. So always, we need to remember that we’re sitting on the same side of the table, we’re the family unit, and like Laura said, being unified there, and then figuring out how to approach it is super important.
Laura: In closing, we hope that you guys take away that, first off, the most important thing to do is to look at yourself. Really evaluate your own heart, your own motivations, and where are you over-reacting and where are you going to draw that line of, what is most of ultimate importance? Just looking and saying, “How can I allow my identity in Christ to not be shaken by every little thing, or rattled by everything that my children’s grandparents do?”
Emily: After we’ve examined our own hearts, and we’ve wondered, “Hey, where am I pinning my hope and my worship?” then trying to figure out, with the help of others – maybe your husband, maybe other people like in your local church, whoever you can trust – just say, “Can you help us navigate this in a way that’s going to love and honor the grandparents of our children well, and is ultimately going to be a display of God’s love in those situations?” That is going to play itself out way different in every situation.
Laura: We’re dealing with sinners.
Emily: And you’re a sinner.
Laura: We’re all sinners, which always makes lots of conflict and tension in relationships. But thankfully, because of the cross, those relationships can be renewed and restored. We hope that you guys take some encouragement from this show, and feel like you can have a couple of next steps; there are just some things to think about, going forward. Check out our Show Notes too, we’ll have some articles linked in there to help you dig a little bit deeper into this topic. And please if you have time, give us a rating and review on iTunes. Those mean a lot to us and really help other people find this show. Then, come find us on social media, where we’ll be talking about this topic all week, hopefully. [laughter] We’re on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter @risenmotherhood. Thanks for joining us.