Stop Judging Your Parents (i.e. Your Children’s Grandparents)

Your parents are probably better people today than they were when raising you. But for some, it wouldn’t matter if they were saints today, they’d still hold bitterness toward their parents and resent them for past grievances.

Grandpa and Grandma Jeub (the gray-hairs somewhere in this pile of grandkids) were once my mom and dad, doing the best they could with what they had, just like Wendy and I are now.

If you have a heart of bitterness toward your parents (i.e. your children’s grandparents), we have some advice for you to take to heart. If you want your home to be healthy and loving, you’ll heed our advice.

1. Your parents are different today than when they were raising you, and that’s a good thing.

I’ve had this talk with a friend, but he has been too wrapped up in his bitterness toward his father to understand. “You don’t know how bad it was growing up with him,” he insists. He has given me details (some fairly awful, others petty). He can’t get his mind off his father’s shortcomings. The result? He continues to despise his dad. He carries it around and can’t seem to get it off his mind, leaving an awkward anger about him.

It’s unfortunate. I’ve met his father (he’s still alive), and he’s really not that bad of a guy. My friend insists, “But he’s a much different man now than he was when I was growing up.” My answer: “Isn’t that a good thing?”

Fact is, time changes people. The parents you knew as a child are much different people today, probably better people than decades ago. Who knows, if you didn’t like them as a child, you may enjoy them as an adult. But as long as you hold on to the outdated opinion of your parents, there won’t be much hope for your relationship. If you let go of these prejudices, you may be surprised to find that your parents are pretty neat people, better people than when they raised you.

2. Love overlooks shortcomings; bitterness knit-picks at weakness.

Adults carry baggage. They point to painful childhood memories and reflect on them. Perhaps your parents had the power to take away your childhood pain, but didn’t.

Don’t let such focus define you as an adult. Whatever negative story you have about your parent, the loving thing to do is give it up. Give it up to God. He can take it. We’re mandated to forgive our neighbor (Matthew 6:12) and even our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48), so don’t you think we should forgive our own parents? When you can honestly forgive your parent for whatever, you will find healing.

Granted, there are evil-parent stories out there, and perhaps estrangement is the best for you. I’ll bet, though, that your story is not like this. Most fall under the “My parents weren’t perfect but they should have known better” category. They knit-pick at shortcomings, feeding unfair bitterness in their hearts, while all-in-all their parents weren’t that bad.

Those that insist on bad-mouthing their children’s grandparents are pushing love from their homes. Instead, parents have the opportunity to show a trait of love. “[Love] does not dishonor others…it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13). Failure to overlook shortcomings, especially petty ones, fails at this most important commandment.

3. Never, ever talk of your parents’ past shortcomings to your children.

I don’t care how bad your parents were when you were young: Don’t ever bring up the details to their grandchildren. Not only is this dishonoring, it is usually hypocritical. I’m certain you have behaviors in your parenting that you are ashamed of today. Would you want others ranting about these low moments to your relatives? Especially to the young, impressionable ones? I think not.

Perhaps you are a better parent than your parents, but you will have your moments where you lose your temper, say things you regret, and create unloving situations that you will want forgiven. You know what? Unless your children know you to be a loving, welcoming parent (which dishing on your own parents shows you are not), they will become your biggest critics.

Trust us on this one: Don’t dis’ your parents to your children. This is a bond you want to break. Your bitter words today will likely come back at you in a decade or so.

4. Love your parents this Christmas, and every time you get together.

We’re spending Christmas Day with my parents, the first time in over a decade. We are looking forward to it! We’re looking forward to the invigorating conversations, the feasts of good food, the joy of having them around for 3-4 days. We will have a most excellent time.

Some couples would rather not spend the holidays with their parents. Perhaps this is how you feel. We challenge you to just love your parents. Even if they are prone to upsetting you, just love them for who they are and have fun with them through the holiday season. Make the best of the time you have; it is the loving thing to do.

The day will come when your children are adults. They, too, will have to figure out how to include you in their family. You will want Love in the House, not judgment. Love will make for the best family reunions.

Does this post strike a chord with you? Use the comment fields to explain. It is likely others feel the same way.

About Chris & Wendy Jeub

The Jeub Family live in Monument, Colorado. They encourage couples to love God and love one another, building an atmosphere of love in their homes.

  • Karen Huse Clifton

    Very true. My parents were good parents but with a alot of difficulties and sore feelings. However my children have the best grandparents anyone could ask for! I could not love them more now that I am a parent too.

  • Chris & Wendy

    Seems like you get it, Karen. Your understanding is making a better home for your children. Love does this.

  • Maudie

    Thanks for this post. I am struggling with this now. We are a quiverfull family with 5 children and another on the way in May. Our youngest is only 5 months old. My mother who is 75, lives with us. She is vocally critical of everything we do in terms of raising the kids. She disapproaves of our discipline, the way we dress and wear our hair and the way we homeschool. She takes up for 1 granddaughter in particular and trys to make it sound okay when they don’t do what they are told or are mouthy. We have a first time policy. That means they are expected to obey first time. They are older ( 12, 11, and 10) and do not do this yet. Our 10 year old daughter pulls the weight that the other girls don’t when it comes to their chores and mother thinks this is okay too. Its just so exhausting fussing with her, especially around the kids. I feel like sometimes, I have an extra child around. I know I need to make changes myself, but this is definately a hard road to walk.


  • Chris & Wendy

    Hang in there, Maudie. Parents who have parents living with them are saints. We’ll be there someday, perhaps.

    I (Chris) have fond memories of my grandmother living with us when I was a teenager, and though she was sometimes critical of my parents, my parents seldom returned the criticism. That had a longer-lasting impression on me than anything my grandmother said! =)

  • Shana

    What would you suggest for a parent(grandparent) who usurps the authority of the parents? We have struggled with this for several years. We are not bitter about it, but it is frustrating and we have had to be very firm about our positions, even when she has overtaken our authority literally right out from under us (as in mid-disciplining our children she has cut in and told our children something far different than we would have said). We struggle with how to deal with this appropriately… honoring her while at the same time keeping our own authority intact.

  • Chris & Wendy

    Great question, Shana, one I’ll develop for another post. Real quick answer: refer to my response to Maudie. Through your gracious response to your frustration, your children will remember your love more than your authority.

  • Kristen

    So true. We just hosted Thanksgiving for 20 people with my in-laws. The day went pretty great, we kept it Christ-centered, and then my father-in-law got upset at the very end and stormed out the door. (He tripped over the dog and one of the kids). It upset my 10 yr old son and his feelings came out about the situation yesterday as we were decorating for Christmas. I shared how the roots of bitterness take hold in your heart and do not leave room for the good fruit that we can exhibit though Jesus. As I was saying this, I kept thinking how I needed to follow my own advice! The relationship with my own parents has been strained for years. I struggle with the desire to spend holidays with them (have not spent a Christmas since 2003) because I have held on to the disappointments I feel toward them as grandparents. I want to feel genuine love for them! From your blog, I need to settle in my heart that it is only through Christ I am able to do this and make the decision to let go of the hurts, move forward, and love them through God’s grace. Sorry for the long-winded post!

  • Wendy

    This is a very good post! I have read it and intend on reposting it to my page. We have recently found out how precious life is by the loss of a close loved one in our lives. Life is precious and you never know what tomorrow will bring, so make the best of every opportunity especially with our families. Thank God we had no hurts that had not been forgiven between the family!! He directs us in that small still voice to get things straight…the question is will we listen? Our new outlook on life is just to make sure our heart is pure with the Lord and with those around us. This is so important for our peace in life too! I just think if we had had some turmoil or things left unsaid before she past, and we had not cleared that up, how painful that could have been. We all make mistakes in life, we are not perfect people, we should forgive and be free! Thanks for this post it has really touched my heart today! Iron sharpens iron! I pray all that read your post will truly let the Holy Spirit convict our hearts and allow change to come that will be pleasing to the Lord and Honoring to everyone in your lives! Blessings to all!

  • Chris & Wendy

    Right on target, Kristen! Not long-winded at all…spot on.

    Wendy: I had considered mentioning in the article that those who are estranged from their parents typically have the most difficult time when dealing with their passing. We only have them for so long. It’s good to be reminded of this!

  • Joanne

    Just what I needed to read today. I think my adult daughter needs to read it too. I wish there was some way I could anonymously send it to her!

  • JenT

    This is a great post. It is good to be reminded to not judge parents. I’ve had a good relationship with my mom, but since we live a different life than what she wanted for me, it’s hard to not get judgmental. I am thankful for her though. She has helped us out so many times, and is in fact helping us now by letting us stay with her. You’re right, the things I get judgmental on are pretty petty. I have a different relationship with my dad, in fact pretty much none at all. They divorced when I was two and I didn’t even know about him until I was about 12, then didn’t get to meet him until I was 16. He said he wanted a relationship, but after a few letters it drifted away. Later when I was married my husband wrote him a letter and my dad tried to pick up the relationship again. It didn’t last very long that time either. I’ve tried to call him a few times recently, but he won’t answer the phone. He also doesn’t respond to my emails. I get along fine with the rest of the family. I’m in touch with two of his brothers on Facebook and my aunt I can call and talk to. Also, my granny. It’s just him. I want to understand but it’s hard. Anyway, sorry for the long comment. This article really touched me.

    • Wendy Jeub

      Hello JenT, It sounds like you have a good relationship with most of the adults in your life and that is great!

      Your dad is a different situation. It is very hard to try to be in a relationship with someone who does not want to give back at all.

      As a follower of Christ you can pray for him and hope that someday he may know the saving knowledge of Jesus. You may never have a relationship with him but you can know that you have forgiven him and moved on in your own life.

      Psalm 127

  • Shonda

    I’m glad you can write this, but what about when the parents don’t have anything to do with the children or grandchildren of one of their own children? What if they never call or ask them over? How should that be addressed? We have tried and tried, we’ve really put our hearts on the line to show them we wanted them around and in our childrens life to be hurt over and over. We realize that we can’t change something they don’t want to change, but I’d like for others to realize its not always the children but sometimes the parents who nothing to do with the the child and grandchildren. They called and asked everyone over for Thanksgiving dinner, but us this year, but still mailed our son a bday card, like they had seen us all year…I can’t understand things like that. Its like dealing with us is easier if we’re out of site, and their attitude changes with each child we have, for the worst that is. And we ONLY have 5!!

    • Wendy Jeub

      Shonda- Really sorry you are being treated this way. ((Hugs)) In our post we were trying to get to those great families out there that have wonderful parents and are just unwilling to make the move to open up to them.

      It sounds like your situation is a little more then that. It is very hard to keep a relationship when others do not really want to make an effort. What we can do as Christians is pray for them and keep raising our children as God leads us.

      May the Lord lead and direct your parenting and may the second chapter go better for you all.
      Psalm 55

  • Tammie

    Okay, I read everything, but my question lies with what then, or how should one react to those of us who have parents who STILL act as they did years ago ?!

    I will give a few examples.. My side doesnt get together, my mother likes to hoard things and doesnt like the kids around, my father refuses to stop smoking in my face even though he knows my health cannot handle it (One issue is severe asthma) … my sister,, well she just outright hates me, wont talk to me, wont let her girls talk to us .. etc. So no one talks and no one gets together. I do talk to my mom, but that is about it.

    My husbands side of the family (mom as his dad is gone already) will give his brothers kids presents in front of my kids and then sit there and tell my kids how bad they are – that thier parents dont love them because we have more children instead of having our prioroties in order by using that money instead to send the first two to college. Then sit there and tell them they are stupid because they choose to believe in some ficticious guy that made up a book of lies a trillion years ago .. and how by us homeschooling them is ruining thier lives and keeping them from a better life that they should be having.

    NOW, that is just a little bit of stuff, I really didnt want to go into alot of things here where everyone can read, but you get the jist … so in orer for us to maintain our sanity and live the lives we chose to live we have had to separate ourselves from them.

    I have always wanted a real family though, never really grew up with a close one and hope that someday my kids will have what I didn’t/couldn’t. I would die happy if that happens..

  • Tammie

    PS.. I just wanted to add, both my husband and I have tried tirelessly to be a family with them.. but no one wanted to reciprocate .. and it became too hard to save any relationship with anyone that also did not want one.

    • Wendy Jeub

      Tammie- Our post on “Stop Judging Your Parents” Is really written to parents who have great parents! However the adult child is still unwilling to forgive and forget past hurts. Your situation goes far beyond what we were trying to get at.

      You two have probably done the best you can with what you have. There is little a person can do when others do not want to have a relationship that is above board and open.

      May the Lord lead you in wisdom.
      Psalm 57

  • Jolene

    Ohhh, all those feeling convicted raise your hand! *slowly raising hand* Wow, this is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you Jeubs for writing this. Time to do some loving on our not so perfect but perfectly made parents!

    • Wendy Jeub

      Jolene, It does seem that you really understand our post. May the good Lord Jesus lead and direct your path.

  • Tisha

    True. Well said. Thank you.

  • Greg Wood

    This is a really good post. I have seen this happen in my friends. The bitterness starts to grow as the Christmas season approaches. Hurts (almost all minor) are brought up again and again. I have heard the story of how Dad didn’t even cry when the cat died so many times I can tell it myself. It is told every year as Christmas approaches.

    On the other hand I cannot say that I have seen this in my own family. I am one of five, but I do not think that ANY of the children speak poorly of our parents. Perhaps it is because we honour them (and why it goes well with us). They certainly do not do so in public or in front of their children (mostly grown now).

    Were my parents perfect? No, but they are the example I try to live by.

  • allison

    I understand why you wrote this article, at least I think so. My DH’s parents were doing the best they could with what they knew how to do. They don’t get the whole have a large family and homeschool thing, but are coming along. Well my father in law passed away last year, but he was happy to know we were expecting even though we had miscarried. That is one of the things my children remember about their papa.

    However I feel the need to ask for you to to address abuse, especialy when it comes to letting grandchildren have access to their grandparent. I have almost a hundred miles between my dad and my children. There was alot of abuse and not just the kind that left bruises (we are talking about the kind that takes a child’s innocence away). Do you explain to your children why that grandpa isn’t safe? Should you let them see your children whenever? I am sure by now I know the answers here, but when I was a younger mother I struggled with this ALOT. I have forgiven my dad(and yes he knows)but I know I can never trust him around my children. My children know that my dad is unsafe for them because my husband and my mother in law will address the children when they ask. I just don’t feel I should have to talk about my parents now that I am not Biblically bond to obey them anymore. And yes I have “baggage” from this. My mother had a hand in the abuse as well, but she passed away before my children were old enough to know her.

    Thanks for reading this and I am eager to recieve your response. Esp since this can be aired in a loving manner.

    • Wendy Jeub

      Allison, We are really sorry for your family and this tragedy. ((Hugs))
      This is a very hard thing to deal with.
      Our post on “Stop Judging Your Parents” Is really written to couples who have great parents but still will not forgive them for past hurts.

      Your situation and your questions really belong in a psychotherapy situation. We do not have those kinds of professional answers.

      May the good Lord Jesus hold you close.
      Psalm 66

  • allison

    Wendy I really didn’t want to put you guys on the spot. I understand that you are not professionals. I appriciate your comment as well as the article.

    • Wendy Jeub

      ๐Ÿ˜€ We really do understand. Thank you for your comments.

  • Spclpeech

    I have a question. My oarents were not the greatest and they still arent. They are trying to seperate my children with false claims to CPS (per what my children overheard them talking about), they spicifically pay more attention too, buy more for, and have more pictures etc of one child then the rest and I know this has to do with favortism. I do not hold things against my parents well I didnt until they go behind my back and talk badly about me and my husband to my children. DOes this still count under your article as me being the “over zealous” child?

  • Jennifer

    I really appreciate this article. I hope to someday be there with my own parents. I have come to the point of understanding that they didn’t have Christ while I was a child and they were just repeating the cycles of abuse from their own childhoods (including some “mild” sexual abuse by my mother). My problem comes with their desire to separate my husband and I, favoritism towards one of my children, and their racism/hatred for everyone not like them…while claiming to be Christians. And so after much prayer and consideration, we decided that distance was best to protect our family. My kids do know some of the story because it’s confusing to suddenly not talk to their grandparents anymore. But we pray for them. For me, it was realizing that Iam my mother’s drug of choice, she delights in taking over my life and torturing me, so I felt very strongly that for my mother to give herself fully over to God’s healing, I couldn’t be her “whipping boy” anymore. It’s been almost 4 years with no signs of forward movement yet.