That said, something beautiful did come from that painful event. (Just another one of God's promises coming true: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Rom 8:28)
What was the blessing? Grandparents. Lots of them.
Aaron's parents were divorced when he was very young. Thanks to remarriages, our children are reaping tremendous benefits. They have 2 grandmothers and 4 grandfathers. That's 6 grandparents. Six!
It is uh-mazing. One of the biggest joys in my life has been watching my children interact with these wonderful adults who love them simply because of who they are. It's a perfectly symbiotic relationship. They adore each other.
That is why I am writing this post. Not to brag, but because my heart is heavy and troubled, and I feel compelled to put in my two cents. I know so many folks who have such issues surrounding these relationships. If you are friend and have confided in me about your own problems in this arena, don't freak out. I am not throwing you under the bus. There are just so many of you. (So don't assume this post is about you!)
I know grandparents who walk on eggshells because their children severely limit their interaction with their cherished grandchildren (for seemingly unknown reasons). I know so many parents, frustrated or concerned about their own parents' behaviors, they have all but written the grandparents off.
May I humbly suggest we find some middle ground? I beg you to read this and consider changing your mind or your approach. I just know how incredibly important my children's grandparents are in their lives, and I strongly desire that blessing in your lives and your children's lives as well...
For the parents who are limiting the grandparent interaction, please consider:
Why are you hindering this relationship? Certainly there are good reasons to keep your children from certain people (abuse, drugs, etc.). However, short of those serious reasons, please examine your heart and motives.
Do your parents have different religious or world views [you are afraid your children might adopt]? Guess what? They are going to encounter those in school pretty soon or, if you home school, in college one day. Want them to adopt your views? Then discuss alternate views in a respectful way. If it really bothers you, discuss your concerns with the grandparents in private and ask them to refrain to talking to your child about such matters.
Do your parents have bad habits (smoking, cursing, etc.)? Talk to your parents about it! Don't just not ever visit or allow them to visit. Invite them over and let them know the rules of your house (not in the kids' presence). Get over your embarrassment or the awkwardness of it, and don't sacrifice a lifelong relationship based on the small stuff.
Do your parents annoy you to pieces? Get. Over. It. Guess what? Your kids are watching. They can tell whether or not you respect your parents based on what you say to (or about) them. Want them to respect you one day? Then set a good example.
Do your parents hurt your feelings and you are worried they might hurt your child's feelings? This is a tough one. There is such a thing as emotional abuse, and of course you don't want to subject your child to this. However, if you are getting your toes stepped on by someone who is seemingly clueless (versus malicious), for goodness sake, talk to them! If they say something hurtful to your child, confront them in an appropriate manner and reevalutate the relationship.
For the grandparents who are feeling slighted:
So you only see your grandchild(ren) once in a blue moon...
You have a few options. You could:
A) Write your child a letter outlining your feelings and desires (to see your grandchild more often). This is a good option if you tend to get emotional and say things in the heat of the moment you might later regret.
B) Talk to your child. Let them know your grandchild means the world to you. Let them know you desire to play a bigger role in his/her life. Ask them what it is that you could do/change that would make the relationship easier. I can only imagine how difficult and humbling it might be, but ask them if they have any concerns about your grandchild being around you.
C) Use the back door (in a respectful way). Send your grandchild letters or care packages. It is one coldhearted parent who doesn't appreciate it when someone is kind to her baby. Melt mom and dad's heart by showing how invested you really are. (Helpful hint: Don't send lots of candy, and don't send money; it's the thought that counts!)
D) Offer to help. Could you pick a child up from school once a week? Could you have the family over for dinner once a month? Families with young children are busy and could use a helping hand.
Children and grandparents are like peanut butter and jelly. They are just meant to be together. Think about it. There are so few people in this world who will love a child simply because the child exisits. The child doesn't have to do a thing to earn this love. Why would you ever risk throwing that away? Maybe you think your child isn't cherished by his/her grandparents, so you limit contact, but the grandparents shy away from your family because you are throwing up barriers. It is a ridiculous, which-came-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg routine. Just stop it!
Step outside your comfort zone. Both parents and grandparents need to humble themselves for the sake of the grandparent-grandchild relationship. There is a very small window in which a parent can tell a child that someone is good and lovable and the child will believe them, no questions asked. Don't let that window close! Nurture that relationship before it's too late. Believe me, it is soooo worth it!
Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged;
parents are the pride of their children. -Proverbs 17:6 NLT
parents are the pride of their children. -Proverbs 17:6 NLT
Note: I know there are a plethora of issues I am missing here on both sides. I'm just asking you to read the post, and if it applies to your situation or speaks to your heart, and it's in your power to do something about it, well then, get to gettin'.