In-Laws. Sibling relationships. Grandparenting.

Thanks to reader’s suggestions I’ve got enough blog ideas to be writing for quite some time! I love the feedback, so even when I don’t ask, keep it coming!

There are three topics that have been mentioned that have stirred my heart:

Grandparenting.I’ve looked — and there’s not much “out there” on how to be a godly grandparent. While the pervasive attitude that grandchildren are to be spoiled and allowed to do things our kids would never have been permitted to is one in which I certainly participate at times with my little people, the scriptures don’t depict godly grandparents as indulgent. Rather, they are to pass on a legacy of robust faith in God and come alongside parents in the teaching and training of the children. I love that young Timothy’s mother and grandmother partnered to rear and teach him! How many parents today are hesitant to encourage a deep relationship between their kids and their grandparents out of concern that your values and standards will be jeopardized rather than supported?

Perhaps your children’s grandparents are not Christians; are rarely involved because they live far away; or don’t have the desire to be hands-on in your kids lives? Over the years I have known numerous families that have developed generational relationships to provide influence, affection and closeness to “like-grandparents” for their children. The joy this brings to both generations has been inspiring to watch. I’m planning to glean from some of those families to share ideas that might work in your life if this applies to you.

One reader said, “I appreciate your heart for young parents, especially moms, but what about we grandmothers? Some of us are even helping raise grandchildren in our homes and need help and encouragement, too!” Single motherhood has resulted in many older women going back to having little ones around — something I’m sure few anticipated or prepared for! What a joy it would be to provide encouragement and care for these heroes!

Their relationships bring me great joy — but were forged through common struggles siblings have.

Sibling relationships: If you are the dad or mom of more than one child you’ve probably heaved many a sigh about what to do when bickering, grabbing, accusing, name calling, pushing or all-out fighting breaks out between kids who are supposed to love each other! A friend was recently in tears over walking into the room to observe her son angirly punching his younger sister. The heartache of watching and hearing your children fussing or being hateful with each other tears at a parent’s heart.

People who now observe my seven adult children loving each other, working together, serving in the church together and enjoying close friendships with one another see the fruit of God’s work in our family. Who but Benny and me saw Jesse and Joey’s toddler fist fight? Josh and Jaime’s adolescent bickering and unkindness toward each other? The time Rachel intervened to help her teen brothers-in-law see how their repeated harshness with Janelle was hurting and embittering her?  Our kids sinned against and hurt each other regularly growing up — and there are times when critical judgments from the past, thoughtless words or insensitivity still result in hurt feelings or requests for forgiveness.

It’s not about what to do if kids don’t get along, but when. The friendships my children now enjoy is a testimony to God’s faithfulness — and to the hope and instruction the Bible provides on how to do our part to raise kids who prize their brothers and sisters as lifelong friends. The road to get there is long and tiring but the fruit is sweet.

In-law relationships: Someone recently asked me why there isn’t much written by Christians on in-law relationships. With “monster-in-law” attitudes abounding, our culture has developed some pretty ugly assumptions about parent/child relationships after the kids marry. As the mother-in-law of five “new kids” to our family, I am privileged to enjoy a warm and close relationship with each of them for which I am forever grateful. But again, that doesn’t mean we haven’t walked through bumps in the road together. How do two women who dearly love the same man — one his wife and the other his mother — reject worldly stereotypes about competing with one another, respect and honor one another’s roles, and find joy in their unique relationship with him? How can parents-in-law embrace the importance of creating a healthy distance with their now-married child so the leave and cleave process can be fully effective? How can married children and their parents resist the common “your parents vs my parents” competition that tempts people to keep score about time spent with each family?

And then there’s the question of how to navigate the sometimes turbulent waters when parents assume their married kids should still come to them for  counsel when their adult children prefer to get advice from others…or not at all?

These topics are those about which I plan to explore in the coming weeks. If they don’t apply directly to you, I pray these posts might encourage someone you know.

The good news is this: whatever you are walking through, there is wisdom to be found in God’s word. People can share their thoughts and experiences but only God can provide the wisdom you need — along with the power to live out what you learn from Him.

Perhaps you’re a Christian who tends to go to people first (friends, the internet, blogs…smile) for help, advice and comfort rather than to the Bible. I do the same thing at times! Or maybe you’re not a Christian, yet sometimes you find help from believers (or their blog…smile) that seems to address your questions or struggles. But you’ve never looked to God or the Bible for help.

We all need to understand that God is the source of the wisdom, strength and help we need. Only He is always wise and always right. I’m very grateful that my blog is encouraging to some. Yet it’s important for you and me to know that God is there to help and counsel us through every situation that confuses or burdens us.

Lord, thank you that our help comes from You, our always faithful, always available Father.

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