21 Aug A Reason Parents and Children Have Conflict
Proverbs 17:6 [NLT] – Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parents are the pride of their children.
My wife Grace and I recently celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary. We are blessed with five kids all walking with Jesus and serving at the church we planted as a family ministry. Our youngest child is headed toward their 14th birthday and our oldest is 22 and on the brink of finishing her master’s degree and getting married.
Life is full and wonderful.
On walks holding hands, Grace and I have started discussing what life will be like when we are grandparents. We are now closer to holding our kids’ babies than holding our kids as babies. Grandparenting seems amazing. The grandparents we know cannot stop talking about what a fun season it is.
According to Proverbs, it is possible for a child to be as proud of their parents as grandparents are proud of their grandchildren. This does not happen automatically, or quickly. But, if we will pay attention to the seasons of life our children and grandchildren are in, we increase the odds of mutual joy and warmth.
Sadly, every family has seasons of struggle and strife. But sometimes, the struggle and strife is for a simple reason – the parent and child do not both agree on what season they are in and agree to move forward with changes so that their relationship is altered from the previous season. For example, when a kid is six years old, you might need to wake them up for school, but when they are 26 years old, they need to get themselves up for work. How we parent in one season is not bad, but it can be bad if we continue to parent in the new season of life according to the pattern of the previous season. When parents don’t accept this, they frustrate their kids. When kids don’t accept this, they frustrate their parents.
What does this look like ideally?
There is someone we respect highly and see as wise. They have a great relationship with their child and grandchildren. So, I asked their son how it was to work with and live a few doors down from his parents. With a smile, he said that he loved his parents, they were his favorite people, and that they were great at lifting burdens and giving wise counsel. The grandparents decided that their home was always open to the kids and grandkids, but they would not go to the home of their kids or grandkids unless invited. This allowed healthy boundaries and brought harmony. I then met with the grandfather/father to ask how they got to such a healthy adult parenting relationship. He said that when his son was a teen, he asked if there was anything he needed to apologize for or change as a father. The son told him that his dad was too tough on him. This was a kid who was very responsible and put a lot of pressure on themselves, and when dad added his pressure, it was crushing. In wisdom, the father apologized, asked forgiveness, and began a new season by parenting in a new way of grace. Had this not occurred, it is doubtful that this would be a holy, happy, and healthy family of multiple generations. As parents, we never get it right but, by God’s grace, we can make it right.
How’s your heart toward your parents?