Despite your best efforts, there are times when things don’t appear to go well. You attempt to be encouraging, but your words are received cynically. You back off from communication to ease tensions, and you are perceived as being aloof. Whatever you do is taken to be the opposite of what you intended. Such scenarios sometimes occur with grandparents. Because your children's grandparents are also your parents or parents-in-law, these tensions may have existed for years. You believe that giving up is not an option, but that is the only thing you are certain about. So what do you do?
Thankfully, biblical principles are available about conducting relationships. You cannot control what your parents do or say, but by God’s grace you can control what you say and do. Don’t be discouraged, and don't give up hope. Because these principles are biblical, they apply to any form of relational breakdown, but I believe they are particularly helpful in dealing with grandparent issues.
James 1:19-20 — "Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." Make sure that you take the time to listen and understand a difficult situation, especially if there is a history involved. It is too easy to assume you know what will be said and begin to act on the basis of your assumptions, before you actually hear what is said and know what was meant. Proverbs 18:13 applies here as well.
Ephesians 4:29 – Be careful to say only what is helpful to your listeners (your parents). Your goal is to build them up by your words, not to get even.
Proverbs 15:1 – The value of a soft answer; if you reply to cynicism with cynicism, or to harsh words with more of the same, you will only continue to stir the emotional pot.
I Corinthians 13:7 – Love always hopes and thinks the best. Admittedly, this is a demanding text, but it is God's direction. If there have been past conflicts, thinking the best may appear foolish and naive. This is when you must focus on trusting God in obedience.
Proverbs 16:20-24 – Pleasant words promote instruction. In this case pleasant words will promote your intentions of honor and respect. This concept is closely connected to Proverbs 15:1 (above).
Romans 12:17-21 – Return good for evil. This is important. Even if you think actions were done to hurt you or teach you a lesson, God's direction is clear. God wants you to follow him and return good for evil.
Ephesians 6:1 – Respond with honor and respect. Even if grandparents are clearly in the wrong, you must still respond with honor toward them.
As you meditate on these principles, pray faithfully for God to help you to apply them and to bless your efforts. Only with the help of the Holy Spirit can you change, and only by the work of the Spirit will your godly attitudes and actions be perceived as helpful and loving. Pray daily for his help and power.
In following these principles don’t lose sight of your responsibility. God has made you accountable for your children. These principles are to help you exercise this accountability with grace and confidence. You want to bring honor to God in your dealings with grandparents. By God’s grace, old wounds can heal. As far as it depends upon you, "live at peace with all men," especially your parents.