Care and concern trump criticism when it comes to childrearing


We were with our daughter and her family over Easter, and she got very upset at us because we made some pointed comments about the way she lets her children run wild (which we certainly never let her do). Maybe we should've been more tactful, but don't we have a responsibility as grandparents to say something?


Being grandparents was always a great joy for my wife and me — and one reason was because we didn’t have the day-to-day burden of raising our grandchildren! That was their parents’ responsibility, which was why we always tried to be careful about making criticisms or offering unasked-for advice.

Were you wrong to say something to them about their children’s behavior? You weren’t wrong to be concerned; you have enough experience to know that children who are raised without any clear rules will have a hard time in life later on. Not only will they be undisciplined and selfish, but they’ll also have a hard time getting along with others. The Bible warns, “A child left undisciplined disgraces its mother” (Proverbs 29:15).

At the same time, you probably could have been more tactful in sharing your concern (as you admit). How would you have felt if your own mother had criticized you for the way you were raising your children? I suspect you would’ve been offended. A brief expression of concern might have been more effective in this situation.

I can’t help but wonder, however, if your daughter is perhaps reacting against the strict discipline she experienced from you as a child. If so, a brief but sincere apology may be in order — and may open the door to a broader discussion about the best way to raise children. Above all, however, always assure her of your love and prayers.