As grandparents, there are few things as joyful as relating to our grandkids, but for many, tensions or misunderstandings get in the way of that. Often the issues are with the middle generation, the grandkids’ parents. Our adult children are gatekeepers of grandparent-grandchild connections, so we have to figure out how to make peace or at least work with that middle generation.
We all know that family life is complicated, and no family or family member is perfect. It’s good that we remind ourselves of that regularly.
Complexities and imperfections within families are one reason why reconciliation is so important. All of us—in every generation—are always growing, changing, and adjusting to many different influences in our lives. We grandparents are the patriarchs and matriarchs in our families, so it’s up to us to be mature, apologize, let go of grudges, forgive, and do everything in our power to live at peace with family members.
Thankfully, we grandparents have some unique characteristics that enable us to be peacemakers and reconcilers. Let’s look at three of those:
We are qualified reconcilers primarily because we’ve lived a long time. That means we have a long history with every family member. We’ve literally watched and supported the formation and growth of new families. Along the way, we have accumulated information, family confidences, and their trust. We have experienced the joys and challenges that come with a growing family.
At this stage of life, we are very much aware that everyone is vulnerable—grandparents, parents, and grandchildren. We’re all imperfect, with various human weaknesses. As we learn to accept or even embrace the shortcomings and mistakes in others and especially in ourselves, we can bring plenty of humility to our role of peacemaker, extend forgiveness and grace, and move toward healed relationships.
3. Unconditional Love.
This is the quality that so many grandparents are known and remembered for. Most of us would do anything in our power for those precious little ones, and that love qualifies us to mediate stressed or broken relationships. Knowing how much our grandkids will benefit from having healthy, harmonious relationships around them, we will courageously step up and have those difficult discussions, or maybe we’ll take on a bigger role in mentoring or caring for our grandkids.
Grandparents, despite whatever great or small challenges you may be facing with your children and/or grandchildren, you can lead the way toward something better. It may take time, enduring more difficulties, or even feeling like you’re running up against a brick wall. But the possibility of peaceful, harmonious relationships is worth it, and you can be the leading influence toward that reconciliation.
How do you maintain peace with your children and grandchildren? What key lessons have you learned along the way? Share your ideas and help other grandparents on our Facebook page.
This was adapted from Dr. Ken Canfield’s book, The HEART of Grandparenting. Find out more and get your copy here.