When Your Parental Authority Is Undermined…By Your Parents

We post every once in a while on how parents (that’s us) relate with our parents (our children’s grandparents). Sort of confusing who’s who when talking about grown-up parents, but bare with us as we attempt to talk through the conflicts in our relationships.

Hunting Trip

Grandma and Grandpa Jeub on a hunting trip with our teens.

This conflict can be complicated. Here’s a letter we received from Shana with a really good question…

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.

My grandmother (my mom’s mom) moved in with us when I was in high school. I have fond memories of this. Though she was sometimes critical of my parents, my parents seldom returned the criticism. This would be the advice I’d give to Shana: Let it rest. You don’t need to correct your parents. You see, my parents’ reaction to my grandmother had a longer-lasting impression on me than anything my grandmother said or did.

The question speaks of “usurping authority.” The grandparent would tell the children “something far different” than what the parent would have told. Hmmm, I have to press on this a bit. Is the “something” illegal? Is it physically threatening or damaging?

I suppose there are evil grandparents out there sneaking drugs to their grandchildren, or violently abusive and what not. If this is the case, you’ve got a unique situation where boundaries need to be put up. What I suspect, though, is that many “authority” issues are petty. Yeah, we take offense at them, no doubt about that. But is this “usurping authority”? Probably not.

My other grandmother (my dad’s mom) was bombastic, speaking her mind and not caring what others thought. I recall her laying in on my mom for not teaching me the Hail Mary at a young age. I must have been perhaps 6 years old at my grandmother’s apartment. She was tucking me into bed and started to recite the prayer, and I didn’t know what in the world she was saying. The exchange between my mom and my grandmother lasted for an uncomfortable few minutes.

But you know what? I went home with relationship in tact. My mother didn’t feel the urge to teach me the Hail Mary as a 6-year-old should, and nothing more was said of the matter. My mother also didn’t feel urged to tell me what a bombastic grandmother I had, or keep me from visiting my grandmother, or any other nonsense. In the end, the grandparent may disagree with how we parent, but that is not the same as usurping authority.

Through your gracious response to your frustration, your children will remember your love more than your authority.

About Chris Jeub

Chris is the father of 16 children, busily running the family businesses and learning the depths of love along the way.

  • http://jent-manyblessings.blogspot.com JenT

    Hmm…thought provoking. We struggle sometimes especially since we are having to stay with my mom for a while until we get back on our feet. We are trying to do things here her way and it’s hard because it seems that sometimes she contradicts herself. She expects the children to know how to clean up after themselves, yet she doesn’t want them cleaning. She thinks cleaning up after a meal is the adults job and we think they should help. She expects the children to play all the time and “be children”, yet she also expects them to act like little adults. Oh well, we are doing our best to do the teaching and training during the day when she’s not here (she works long hours) and give the appearance at night like we do it all. It’s true that some of the things she has “usurped authority” on is pretty small. It’s something to work on.

    • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

      I sometimes wonder how we would feel if we had parents living with us. I suspect Wendy and I would perhaps get more testy toward our parents. But, from what we have seen from a distance, we witness parents and grandparents at odds with one another over petty things, which is what provoked this post.

  • http://homemakersguidetothegalaxy.blogspot.com Shana

    The question speaks of “usurping authority.” The grandparent would tell the children “something far different” than what the parent would have told. Hmmm, I have to press on this a bit. Is the “something” illegal? Is it physically threatening or damaging?

    It was more a question of the rules of our house. “She” moved in with “us”, and agreed (at the time) that we would be in essence, in charge of things in general. However, she didn’t always agree with the rules we set up for our children, which for a large family, were pretty necessary. They may have been unimportant in most households, but for us, we needed certain rules to be followed. What would happen, would be that I would remind a child or children of a certain rule, and often midsentence (if she was in the vicinity, which often she was), she would interrupt me, take the child in question into her lap, and in essence, proceed to tell them that our rules were too harsh and what they did was okay. Frequently.

    She hasn’t lived with us in several years, but with our oldest (her favorite and most spoiled grandchild), we are still dealing with many of those ramifications. We never badmouthed her to the children, but we did try to explain that our methods were different and that the children needed to listen to us. With our oldest, he can say just about anything to her and get whatever he wants, and then thinks he can do the same here. All he has to do is turn on the tears for her and she rescues him, so we end up looking like the mean parents for having rules or standards (which really aren’t even anything crazy, just normal little things like doing chores at certain times).

    We don’t bother dealing with most of it when she’s not living with us, but when she was under our roof, it was very difficult to deal with because it was a frequent undermining of pretty much everything we were trying to do to raise our children the way we felt was important. Something like praying the rosary would not have bothered me in the slightest, but many of the issues she chose to make her mission to undermine have had very far reaching damage that can be seen still today.

    Does that make what I was trying to say a little clearer? :)

    • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

      Here’s an idea, Shana. You cut-n-pasted the paragraph from the article, so it probably resonates with you. Could you turn this into a question you’d ask yourself when tempted to confront your parent? Like, “Is what I’m upset over illegal?” or “Is what I’m upset over something that will remove my parental responsibility altogether?” If not, then whatever it is would fall under the “petty” category, and then you’d be able to handle it as such: petty.

      • Olatunde

        I have to disagree with you Chris. The serpent in the garden usurped God’s authority by introducing Eve to the concept of doubting and dishonoring God’s words. “Is it illegal?” is not the right question. This is the right question, “Is it scriptural?” It is written, “Honor your father and mother, so that your days may be long on the earth.” It is also written, “Children obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.” The grandparents in question are teaching dishonor and disobedience. Therefore, Shanna’s problem is by no means petty. Shanna needs to be encouraged in honorably addressing her parents, who are teaching Shanna’s children to dishonor and disobey her.

      • Annie

        There’s more to it than that. Parents are the ones given the task of training up their children in the way they should go (in accordance with God’s Word and in His ways). The biggest question is not whether it is illegal- it is whether it lines up with God’s Word! Obedience to parents lines up with God’s word. It is the biggest command given to children. If anyone is contradicting the parents, they are teaching the child that obedience is not necessary, and therefore leading a little one astray (which has serious consequences from God). This is far more than “petty”.

    • Olatunde

      Shana, please look at my response to Chris. (I’m sorry I misspelled your name in my comment.)

  • http://www.apurposefullife.blogspot.com Heather

    I don’t agree with your response on this one. Parents should be able to raise/discipline their children how they they see fit without their parents interfering. Yes, let the petty arguments go, and certainly don’t argue with your parents in front of your children or bad-mouth them, but when a grandparent stops a parent in mid-discipline, that isn’t right! Somewhere not in front of the children, I would talk about it. These are your children that God gave to YOU to raise, not your parents. They aren’t responsible to God for them, YOU are!

    • Olatunde

      Heather, please look at my response above, and know that I agree with your disagreement. This is a real issue that many couples in the Lord experience.

  • Tami

    We have had a really hard time with this. My father has been an enabler to my older three teens. When we took our oldest off of our cell phone plan because she repeatedly broke the rules of ownership, our goal was to teach her to honor what was required of her when she was getting the benefit of the discount of being on our “plan”. therefore she had to go get her own plan. My father just put her on his plan. When they bad mouthed us to him, he would give them a shoulder to cry on and tell them it was because we were uneducated (un-degreed)that their lives were so awful. We always felt that they (he) was undermining us, and making us look bad in front of our children, and it really hurt that he constantly used our lack of a degree as a reason to put us down in our children’s eyes. Is that petty stuff, cuz we took it kind of seriously and haven’t had much contact with them in the last year or so. We have 4 more at home that we don’t want to go thru that with.

  • Jenn

    We have an issue with a grandparent. She has a lot of issues that endanger our children, several circumstances have caused us to have to put up boundaries far greater than we would prefer to have but our children’s well being comes first. Its very, very difficult to not be bitter or angry, I feel my children are being robbed of a grandmother. She speaks badly of me in front of them and slanders our family to out of town relatives to the point some came to visit just to see what was really going on. She has tried to pin my husband against me because of the boundaries we have put up, boundaries he wants in place as well. Grandparent issues are major issues especially when they live nearby. I wish it was just a passing issue or a little argument every now and again but when its constant issues it can wear on not only the parents but a lot on the children. Manipulation is a vile disease and nobody wins.

  • Sarah

    I grew up with grandparents who undermined my parents’ authority…constantly and consistently. My parents did what Chris advised and let it go. Oh, how I wish they had stood up to my grandparents. The way that the grandparents spoke of my parents and the way they chose to raise us caused lasting issues. In my teen years, I sought the counsel of my easy-going grandparents over my parents. They told me all of the things I was struggling with weren’t things to worry about…everyone “normal” did those things. I was pregnant at 15. Now, at age 22, I am married with three children and one on the way, but I cannot trust my children with my grandparents. I know how they will undermine us. I think if my parents had set up those boundaries early in my life, my grandparents would have known where they stood and it all could have been avoided. When issues like this come up with our parents, we have talked gently and honestly with them and they have appreciated it because they want to be part of their grandchildren’s lives and most of the time they didn’t know how they had come across.

  • http://journeytotoby.blogspot.com/ Dave & Teresa Schoel (Guest Writers)

    If my wife disagrees with a method of discipline, it is our policy that, in the moment, she stays quiet, and speaks to me about it later. She may change my mind later, but in the moment of discipline, we must present a united front. If grandparents don’t have the good graces to keep quiet until later during a moment of discipline, then this interference should be addressed by the parents, especially because this open disagreement about the child in the presence of the child, undermines the authority of the parent. Ignoring the interference frustrates the parent, encourages poor behavior of the grandparent, and allows the child a way of undermining their parent. Of course, I would recommend that the parents address the grandparents away from the child in private. While respect for grandparents should be a crucial aspect of a Godly family, grandparents must also respect the family and the authority of their children.

    An interesting example – when our first child was 2 years old. He had thrown a fit at their house and my father (his grandparent) thought that Ben needed a stricter punishment. However, he did the right thing. He was quiet in the moment, but later called us on the phone to voice his concerns. We had a healthy discussion, in which we disagreed, but he handled it with respect for our parental authority.

  • http://www.shellsgang.blogspot.com Michelle

    You know. It’s hard to explain ursuping authority. But I feel that if the parent truly has a strong disagreement on authority then, they have the right to stand up and disagree on how they choose to raise their child.

    My maternal grandparents constantly undermined my parents authority; to the point that my brother and I rebelled terribly against our parents. It broke our family life apart. Our relationship with our parents is still strained because of the questioning of authority. I fell it is very serious to have parental interference in the raising of your own children.

    Its something to take in pray and fasting even if you are so troubled about it.

    • Wendy

      Thank you so much for this comment! As a single parent of an abusive teenager who’s grandparent (my mom) constantly over endulges him and usurps authority from me from day one, I now know (FOR A FACT) that i am not out of my mind! A few days ago he twisted my arms and pushed me and I had to unwillingly (on my part) have him leave and live with his uncle.

  • http://homemakersguidetothegalaxy.blogspot.com Shana

    While the issues now are not anything illegal or in most cases dangerous (although the overfeeding issue was a very big one that could have ended far worse than it did, but that would take more explaining :) ), the issue is more the permissiveness and “rescuing”. She disagreed with our methods and would frequently “rescue” our children, particularly the oldest, who now thinks he can do no wrong and doesn’t have to work for anything because she constantly “rescued” him from either his own bad decisions or simply his responsibilities. So while it’s not as big of a deal now, I am looking further down the road when he decides to take the car without asking, or goes out with some friends and gets in trouble. If her influences so far have already given him the idea that he’s able to do whatever he wants without consequences (or in her opinion, our consequences are too harsh (which they’re really not)), how much worse will it be when he’s really old enough to get himself into trouble?

    Another example would be this… with her first son (my husband), she was fairly strict in her rules and decision making (with good results). With her 2nd, 5 years later, he had a few health issues and she chose to be much more permissive. That son got into trouble with drugs and hung out with some less than savory crowds… and ended up in a good amount of trouble. We see some of those same tendencies occurring with our oldest, no matter how hard hubby and I work to undo a lot of that, it’s been very difficult. She was around for some of his most formative periods, and in the interest of peace, we did our best to just “let things go”. I really wish that we had stood up sooner and dealt with those issues when they were happening, because of the issues we’re having now.

    I agree that certain things should be let go, particularly with grandparents who aren’t around as much, but when they’re a very present part of a grandchild’s life, there can be some very far reaching issues that make it difficult to let certain types of behaviors just go. Does that make sense?

  • Karen

    So true. Whenever my kids go to their grandparents’ house they let them get away with everything and they come back hyper and sassy, but it only lasts a short time. They know what the rules are at our house, and they know what the rules are at the grandpaernts house, and they don’t confuse the two.

  • mollie

    With respect I strongly disagree with you Chris. I think Olatunde hit the nail on the head! If a wife underminded her husbands authority like that it would bring on disunity. I can’t see letting it go when it is that extreme over and over again. Yes I agree there is petty! But I think the concerns that Shana has are in no way petty. We too have experienced this with one set of parents and there is no way I would allow it to go on. It is very disrespectful on the Grandparents part. And they are literally teaching their grandchildren to not obey. I believe that is a sin.

  • sandra

    I’ve had friends go to counseling over it.It helps if everyone is on the same page.It’s imperiitive,sometimes.I know things with one couple were so bad that they were advised not to see the inls until they agreed to counseling with them,to make sure everyone was on the same pg,otherwise,it would be very confusing for the children.I think any grandparent who truly cares would agree to go.

  • Chris

    The biblical command to be respectful to our parents, means that when we have an issue with our children’s grandparents, we deal with it with utmost respect, because it is very important for us to teach our children that this is the way they need to treat us. The other biblical command is to treat them how we would wish to be treated if in that situation. I like the idea of ask, seek, knock in this situation. Ask for help first – pray about it. Seek an answer to your response – is this something that God thinks is a problem? Then knock – I liken this to knocking on the door to ask to come in. Does God give you an opening to deal with it.
    Having said that my issues with a set of grandparents Would come under the umbrella of petty and has not needed ‘dealing with’.
    I loved the question ‘Is it biblical?’ but can understand the original post with response to petty issues. Perhaps one has to be there to truly discern whether it is petty or dangerous.

  • Kathy Wooten

    We have been going through quite a bit with my husbands family undermining our marriage AND our parenting. A double blow! I found this article very encouraging. As always, you Jeub’s are doing a great job sharing Love in your home!

  • JAC

    I particularly like the Schoels’ comments here. It’s also important to remember that situations may differ depending on whether the grandparent is a guest in your house or you and your children are the guests in theirs. Protecting your children’s well-being (including their spiritual well-being) should always be a high priority. If a problem is persistent and truly damaging, politely sweeping it under the rug is probably not the loving thing to do for anyone concerned. Sometimes love must be “tough.” But being gracious and kind are important, too.

  • Kathy Wooten

    Previously I posted with out reading all the comments first. So allow me to say that I can see both sides of the argument and agree there is a time for discenment. My default is to react, however, I believe we should pray first, allow our husbands to “go to battle” on our behalf, and pray some more. I am currently in the midst of family attacks. There has been “civil unrest” in the family for quite some time, but intense since Thanksgiving. There was a family blow up, a talk, and little resolution, but lots of hurt feelings, including mine. My children have been belittled by their grandparents, I have felt unappreciated to the point of thinking my in-laws don’t care if I live or die. I was extremely ill 2 years ago, on the ambulance 5 times in a 1 week, and they would not come the hour to help with our children so my husband, their son, could be by my side to be an advocate with the doctors. I am working very hard at not being bitter. However, recently, they just told my husband to have me committed to a mental institution. This has all seemed like too much to endure, especially since I am 7 weeks with our 9th child. We are struggling with the decision to keep having children since we get little to no help from family that is just an hour away. We feel led to trust God, yet how is it reasonable to keep having children in this climate? I am being very vulnerable about this struggle and would appreciate any encouragement you can give Chris and Wendy and friends. Thank you. :)

    • Staceycarey

      Kathy keep you faith in God he will see you through everything… I have found if i worry about what family members have done to me that my time is best forgetting about what have done and allow God to Heal my Heart and Soul for the things they have said and done to me…. God is always on your side….. Blessed bee…..


  • Ann

    I have to disagree with Chris. You can’t just play the ostrich and ignore things.
    My mother in law (hubby’s mom & deceased dad) constantly undermine us. You have to take a stand. There is a right way and a wrong way to take a stand, but you have to do it. Just because someone is “blood related” doesn’t mean you have to be around them or agree with them. God gives YOU the children to raise, not the grandparents.
    I currently have a 22 year old son living with the Enabler grandma. He is not working, sleeps in real late, and she is paying his bills. She complains to us constantly. She always bought him stuff we couldn’t afford, or what we didn’t think he needed. Never respected us at the parents. Everything had to be a battle with them. Our son doesn’t want to live here: we have rules–church on Sunday, no drinking, smoking, cussing, help out around here, and GET A JOB. Life is easier at grandma’s but destroying his youth.
    Now grandma has her sister that is 25 years YOUNGER than her living there as well. Sister has major issues-been arrested for threatening people at her former work, sister does not pay any rent, groceries, etc. Sister has 2 daughters that I do not want within a state of my children. Sister let men sleep in the other room with her 14 year old daughter (not at grandma’s) and wondered why she got pregnant. We do not allow our children to go there without one of us. But it has been a battle as my husband just says, it’s my mom. But it is unsafe for them to be there. Lots more to the story. If I had to do it over, don’t know if I would have married him knowing what I had to deal with the constant meddling in our marriage and interference!!

    She called the other day and wanted to hire my 18 year old daughter to come clean her house. Because sister and my 22 year old son are too lazy to do it!! Unbelievable!!

    • Katzcandy

      Ann, I am in the exact same situation as you, to a ‘T’.    It drives me insane and I can not stand it anymore  This time last year, my son was living with his grandparents (my parents) and she begged my ex (my childs father) and I to get both my kids out as she was going crazy.   We told her not to move them in to begin with, but she won’t beleive us, and didn’t want them on the street etc etc.   They both had a place to live, they just didn’t want to follow rules.  Soooo, they both got a place to live.   Now, I have a bad feeling it is happening again, I am possitive she is moving in my 20 year old (21 this summer).    She pays his bills, does his laundry, makes his lunch etc etc etc.  She would probably wipe his ass if he let her.  What the hell is going on with our own parents undermining our authority with our own kids.  I am heading for a full blown nervous break down.

  • Well Expereinced Father

    I must disagree also. It would seem as though you do not have adequate experience with this topic to be giving well informed advice. You are giving off the cuff advice obviously without ever having had any adverse experience in this topic. Grandparental usurpation of parental authority can and clearly does have bad effect and has absolutely no Biblical basis. The only possible exception MIGHT be if the children were in grave danger due to  the parents raising the children immorally or allowing dangerous or immoral things to go on…in which case grandparents should still tread lightly. I am a 52 year old father of 5 and grandfather of 1 and have a story I can use from my experience to relate to this but it is much too long to write here. Suffice it to say you (parents) must treat your parents (grandparents) with respect and not denigrate them to your children (grandchildren), however there are limits to some things and some things need to be nipped in the bud because they can and will have a lasting effect on parental relationships with their children (and grandparental relationships with the parents) when grandparents are allowed to usurp, subvert, or undermine the parent’s authority.

  • Marianne

    My parents stepped in and took over my daughter’s life. Perhaps they felt they had good reason to do so, but there was no prior discussion. They made a decission to steer her out of my life, and escorted her to a private art school 2000 miles away from where I sat waiting for her to join me. I had moved across the US to establish residency in AZ so she could attend ASU. She never arrived , and now it has been twelve years. She is totally out of my life. If I attempt to phone her, she screams at me asking me to stay out of her life. I think about her every day. She has chosen an alternate lifestyle.  I have a difficult time understanding her. Both of my parents are now deceased. I do not think it is wise for grandparents to take away a parent’s authority. I would have rather had my parents work with me to create love and respect. How different it might have turned out!

  • anon

    I strongly disagree with this blog. When a grandparent undermines a parent it teaches the child to triangulate to get their way. Grandparents should help their grandchildren to respect their parents, not disrespect them. My mother causes commotion and dissent in my household every time she undermines me, and my daughter will look me point blank in the face and challenge my authority when she is in the presence of my mother. This is so unhealthy, and teaches children that either their parents are incompetent or their grandparent is out of line. One of the two will occur.

  • Jennifer

    I also disagree with this post. Though it was said well and I wanted to like it, the overall view didn’t sit right with me.
    I want to bring up my kids to always confront me with respect, as I would have treated this grandmother if i had a lroblem with her. I ask my kids to come to me in private if they have an issue with me in the same model of mathew 18
    If this was my mom and she was upset with me, I would pull her aside and ask her if she had further problems with my parenting to bring them to me alone as the bible teaches. There is no need to be hurtful and angry as the poster is trying to put across but there is also no need to have this be an issue.
    Is the heart of passiveness in the right place? Did ignoring the problem bring growth to the relationship? I don’t think so. But lovingly correcting is always key. If its done in anger it is better to stay quiet until you cool off. There is no reason to ignor a problem that could be handled better.

    And I also wanted to add that undermining authority doesn’t have to be about being illegal. It’s as simple as removing a punishment or ignoring that mom said no more cookies as grandma slips you an extra one. The attuide that says ‘we don’t have to play along with you being a parent’ and to the person who wrote it, I’d say that it’s time for a quiet talk with grandma about your issue in private. Of she does not listen, the next time she is speaking over you simply say ‘no. I’m sorry grandma, but that’s not going to work out.

  • DC

    Hi, my just turned 16 year old’s grandma rang school today to say my child was off sick and knew she’d gone to her friends house instead. Child had said to grandma, mum said I have to go to school. I’m a nurse, the child is not sick. The gran didn’t contact me to check, the child lied and told me she was at school, and when I confiscated her phone for truancy I saw a message from grandmother advising my child, ‘don’t go getting drunk or doing anything silly at your friends’. I’m in shock! Ps, this is my daughter’s paternal grandmother, I am divorced from her father who is equally problematic. I dislike the approach of all of them as they don’t listen, have questionable values, but my daughter keeps her own contact despite my strong reservations. Any advice?

  • Dvori

    I would disagree with you Chris. It is very wise to forgive pushy grandparents, but how can there be trust or closeness if the healthy boundaries are constantly usurped, and the grandparents are not believers? It is really important that a husband and wife are not undermined by grandparents who are arguing some other religion, and that the husband and wife support each other and want to raise their children in a peaceful atmosphere, so perhaps it is helpful to the children to see their parent’s love for the grandparent, and that there are also healthy boundaries there.

    • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

      I reserve such a stand for only drastic extremes (like abuse). Grandparents having different religious views is not extreme, and your attempt to “protect” your children could very well backfire on you. If you disagree with me with the example in this post, I suspect you’re in for a lot of unnecessary pain as you attempt to raise your children apart from their grandparents.

  • Jon

    If we are looking at this in the light of God’s Word then we must understand that the discipline and authority over the child is the sole responsibility of the parents and no one else. The Bible clearly shows this with many many scriptures and never gives that authority to anyone else but the parents. The parents, not the grandparents, are to give an account to God as to how they raised their children.

    If the grandparents undermine the authority of the parents over the child then they are undermining what God has ordained. God said very simply that when a man and woman leave their parents and get married they are joined as one flesh. The wife is to submit to the husband as unto the Lord (not as a door mat or servant, but supporting the husband in the role that God has given to him. It’s quite easy for the wife to control the husband as she wants so submitting to him requires her to restrain from trying to control the husband) and the husband is to love her as Christ loved the church (the husband is never to dominate the wife physically or otherwise, but he is to love for her and sacrifice in all things to make her happy as unto the Lord). The role of the parents (husband and wife) is to train up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and not to provoke their children to wrath. These are the rules God has set forth and no where in those requirements does it say the grandparents are to trump the authority that is given to the parents by God. Marriage is ordained by God and therefore any undermining of that marriage, to include parenting, is against God’s Word.

    • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

      I can’t tell if you agree with me or not.

      • Jon


        I disagree with any usurpation of parental authority because it’s contrary to God’s Word. You don’t seem to take that line of thought in that you are fine with some usurpation as long as they are small in your eyes. In my opinion any usurpation by the grandparent sets a precedent that will cause larger issues down the road, so in that respect we disagree.

        Certainly any discussion about these things must be done with love and kindness, but it must be done. If the grandparent cannot talk about these issues with an open and loving mind then that is not the fault of the parent.

        • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

          So, my parents should have had a huge confrontation about whose has authority granted by God’s Word? As opposed to letting the petty little conflict slide?

          No, I think my mom did the right thing and let it go. It was the loving thing to do. I don’t know you, Jon, but I suspect a couple things:

          1. You have no scripture to justify this “usurpation of parental authority” nonsense. I suspect you heard someone tell you that, and you took it as truth.

          2. You’re going to eat your words when you’re a grandparent.

          • JMS

            Chris – I dont usually find you to be so snarky as your comment above!

            Parents are to be the authority in a childs life. Grandparents are to be respected as a general authority because of their eldership, but they no longer have parental authority as their child cleaved to another. They are to be honored and esteemed, but not to the detriment of another relationship.

            Response to a grandparent who intercedes must be first met with prayer. Always. MUCH Prayer.And wise counsel. And letting it go is certainly a first line defense, and in many cases is probably a good route. HOWEVER, when a grandparent makes a habit of telling the children things when the parent is not around, or training the child in a way they should NOT go, or being harsh, or telling the child that the parent is bad or wrong, it needs to be dealt with.

            Initially, it should NOT be dealt with in front of the children. It should be brought to the grandparents when the children are not present and in a calm and respectful way. Repeated, disrespectful behavior by the grandparent after initial respectful attempts must be dealt with in other ways that are too specific and individual to go into here.

            What is more respectful that taking a hurt or wrong to a person and working toward restoration? If you read the “Peacemakers” book, he addresses the need to let some things slide, but some things should not be ignored and bringing them out will prevent resentment, anger, bitterness, and the worst of all, a broken relationship. This is the thing that breaks our Father’s heart most of all.

            • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

              Yeah, my second point was a bit snarky. I shouldn’t digress like that.

          • Jon

            Chris everywhere in scripture when discussing raising of the child it is only ever by the parent. Here are some examples of that:

            Deuteronomy 6:6-9 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the
            doorposts of your house and on your gates.

            Proverbs 1:8-9 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.

            Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

            Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

            Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

            Proverbs 13:24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

            Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.

            Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.

            Proverbs 23:13-14 (KJV) Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

            Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
            Proverbs 29:17 Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.

            Chris could you show me where scripture gives any authority to anyone else to raise or train a child outside of the parent? I absolutely agree that some things can be left alone if they are small enough, but often times if you continue to let the small stuff go then that sets the precedent for much larger issues and that’s why any usurpation of parental authority is bad in my opinion. Remember, I said that things must always be done in love when dealing with these things? What JMS says is 100% right.

            I do find it interesting that you are telling me I have no basis in scripture for my point of view when I’ve provided scripture on who is the authority of the child and you have provided no scripture for your point of view. I’m not an internet tough guy and I’m certainly not going to be snarky when it comes to discussing the things of the Lord. If I’ve offended you I apologize.

            • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

              All these verses are instructions to parents. None of these verses bring clarity to the parent/grandparent conflict I raised in my article, and none of them have anything to do with a parent’s authority over anyone else, specifically grandparents.

              Back to my first point: I said, “You have no scripture to justify this ‘usurpation of parental authority’ nonsense,” and you respond with a handful of general verses on parenting. That’s like me responding with a handful of verses on grandparenting. There are plenty; google it. They don’t refute anything.

              But here are two refutations worth noting:

              1. Deut 6:6-8 are instructions to all of Israel, not just parents. You’re reading into that verse and assuming God is talking only to parents here.

              2. I guess I do have a verse giving grandparents a green light to some input in their grandchildren’s lives. Deut 4:9, “Teach [these things] to your children and to their children after them.”

              • Jon

                But they do refute what you are saying Chris because God gives the authority to the parents over the child which solves the parent/grandparent issue you raised. If God gave authority to the grandparents to overstep or undermine the parent He would have clearly laid that out in His word. The same goes for a father/daughter relationship and how it changes when the daughter is given away in marriage to the husband. The father gives the authority to the husband as God intended it and no longer has the right to undermine what the husband says (certainly there are exceptions such as abuse or things like it and that applies to grandparents as well just as you mentioned earlier).

                In response to Deut. 4:9, you have to take that into context with other scripture and where the authority lies throughout scripture when talking about children. In the case of Deut. 4:9, the whole point there was for the Israelites to pass down through their generations the preservation of God’s law. This can be applied to today of course (just as Deut 6 can), but it still doesn’t give the grandparents an avenue to usurp the parents authority.

                Remember I’m not saying that grandparents aren’t an authority of their grandchildren, in that, when the parents aren’t around the children should see the grandparent as an authority and should respect and honor them; however that doesn’t give the grandparent the right to discipline as they see fit. I have no problem delving authority to them as I see fit, but they cannot and should not try to usurp that authority regardless if I am around or not.

                I 100% believe that any usurpation of parental authority is bad given the context we are talking about. If a parent is abusing the child, putting their life in danger, and other such extremes then the grandparent should step in, but that is not the context in which we are talking. Perhaps I should’ve clarified that point but I thought it was a given.

              • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

                Jon, you’re misguided. I’m not sure if you came up with these ideas yourself, or if someone told you to take these positions. I have two points for you to reconsider:

                1. Good to hear your clarification about abuse situations, but you’re doubling down on the petty. In essence, then, my mom should’ve made the rosary a big deal, confronted my grandmother, maybe forbid me from seeing her.

                I think my mom was right. She let it go. She didn’t make a mountain out of a molehill. People who restrict relationships over petty situations are unloving and nearsighted. I encourage you to learn to love and overlook the petty. That’s my point in this context, the point you’re taking issue with, and you should reconsider.

                2. You’re interpreting scripture the way you want. I try to resist the temptation to twist scripture to my liking. You claim there’s a link between the verses you cite and the issue I raise in my article, but it isn’t there. This is twisting scripture to declare your own perceived authority, a use of scripture I think you should reconsider.

                The alternative to these considerations is to make a big deal out of every disagreement you may have with your parents or in-laws on the raising of your children. Take issue at the slightest ripple. Maybe even forbid the relationship from growing, or at least threaten it. Keep them under your thumb, and continue to use the Bible to justify it. Your children’s grandparents will probably shut up and breathe little value into the relationship with your children.

                And perhaps your children will marry someone just like you.

              • Jon

                Chris I am not twisting scripture at all. I’m not sure how you are getting to that point. My whole point is that when grandparents usurp the parents authority it is not biblical. In my own situation my mother-in-law continues to try and take control of my child time and time again and I now have to put an end to it. Had I put a stop to it in the earlier stages then this wouldn’t have gone out of control like it is now. My In-Laws seem to think their authority trumps mine when it comes to discipline which is not biblical.

                When I deal with this situation it will be in love and humbleness as I’ve said before and not with a heavy hand because I am to honor them although that doesn’t mean I need to agree with them. When I say any usurpation of authority needs to be addressed it is because of what I’ve gone through but it doesn’t mean it needs to be done in anger or rage or making a big deal of it. I can talk with my In-Laws in love and hear what they have to say and also give them my side of things and we can come to a peaceful resolution that must be based on the Bible. My wife and I have tried ignoring it for over a year now and it just keeps getting worse so what you’re suggesting is contrary to what I’ve experienced. Ignoring something that is happening is not the answer in my opinion…..especially when it comes to who has the authority and responsibility over the child.

                Each situation is different, but it still doesn’t change that usurping the authority of the parents is flat wrong because that authority is given to them by God. If that is not true then please point out where in the Bible it says differently. There is no reason to make a big deal out of any disagreement that one will have with their parents and I never suggested that. I suggested being loving and humble when dealing with these matters because that is honoring to the grandparents, so I’m not sure how that is making a big deal of things.

                It’s interesting to me that you continue to use emotions within your arguments against scripture. Remember I’m NOT cutting my kids off from my In-Laws, I’m trying to find a loving solution with them respecting our wishes as the authority over our kids and still honoring them in the process. How that will cause your stated alternative to your point of view is beyond me.

                I want to address your claim that I am twisting scripture to declare some perceived authority. If God has not given the parent of the child authority and responsibility over that child then who has the authority over them? What do you suppose the Bible means when it tells the parents to train up their child in the way they should go and the child will not depart from it when they are older? Do you suppose someone other than the parent has authority in the matter of training? What about sparing the rod? Is there no authority or responsibility to the parent to discipline the child or does that authority fall to someone else within the family? If so, where does it fall and where is the scripture that bears this out? If there is no authority given to the parent in the Bible then who is in authority over them Chris? How is it twisting scripture to say that God has told the parent to train up their children according to His Word and discipline them according to His Word? How is it twisting scripture when I say that no where in the Bible does it say that Grandparents can assume authority over the child and undermine the authority of the parents?

              • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

                I’m very curious of the details: “In my own situation my mother-in-law continues to try and take control
                of my child time and time again and I now have to put an end to it.”

                Question: What was the 1 worst thing your mother-in-law did? Don’t give me a litany of little things. Give me the big kahuna, what was over-the-top serious that has convinced you to put an end to their relationship.

                On the scriptural argument, I suspect you’re creating problems in your family because of how you are using scripture. What I mean by “no link” is that you’re using parenting verses (how to’s, training, discipline, etc.) and reading “authority” into them. Yes, you have authority, I get that, but you can still be a crummy parent.

                You won’t get good results if you hold these parenting verses in the face of your mother-in-law, or anyone who threatens your authority. “By who’s authority” was a common question of religious leaders and Pharisees, and Jesus didn’t take too kindly to such arguments.

                Another question: Have you read our books? How exactly did you stumble across this article?

              • Jon

                Firstly I have a great relationship with my In-Laws so there is no relationship that is ending and it never will. Because you are assuming that means you are missing my point completely Chris.

                The issue that brought this to a head is when my In-Laws took it upon themselves to discipline my daughter in front of my wife when she didn’t get a chance to take care of the issue. Literally as soon as she misbehaved she was snatched up and spanked and that was what brought it to a head. I actually haven’t dealt with this just yet because I’ve been in prayer about it quite a bit the last couple of days and wanted to cool down before I talked with them. I refuse to put a rift between us and that’s why I haven’t dealt with it because I MUST come with a loving tone to them. What they did was clearly undermining my wife’s duty and responsibility as a mother so it must be dealt with so that it doesn’t happen again.

                Chris, authority is implied in those verses. It is the way God intended it to be within the family structure. I am responsible for my household and am the head of it as God intended and with that comes authority. That authority isn’t and shouldn’t be heavy handed but loving like how Christ deals with us. I have to give an account for how I ran my family, how I treated my wife, and how I raised my kids. That authority falls on the parents just as the responsibility does within those verses I quoted. Training your kids should always be redemptive in nature just as Christ chastises us. A crummy parent is one that is constantly yells and is always bothered by their kids and has no relationship with them. I am none of those.

                Again, who has the authority over my children to raise them and discipline them if the parent doesn’t?

                I haven’t read your books. I stumbled across the article as I have gone through several days of reading and praying on the subject and started to do a google search and your blog showed up a couple pages into my search.

              • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

                I agree, your parents spanking your kids is over the line. I’d encourage you to focus on that, not the authority you find “implied” in a bunch of parenting verses. “Let us do the disciplining around here” is much more persuasive than “you are usurping my biblical authority as a parent.”

                Come to think of it, the way you explained it, they didn’t usurp authority. They just disciplined your kid. It sounds like just a hasty snapping, nothing sinister. If that’s the worst thing that has happened, I think you’ve got it pretty good. You may find a gentle response the best.

                And I’m glad you stumbled across this article and voiced your disagreement. And I’m glad I found myself in a feisty enough mood to answer you. This may be a God-thing. I hope your talk goes well.

    • Isileli Emanuele Koula Tonu

      I agree with you. I have been struggling for three years of my marriage trying to work out why i had my son because after i had my son in 2012, all my father inlaw does is question everything i do from dressing my son to the way i descipline him also it doesnt help hes a pastor and stands fast on the bit where you shouldnt upset ur children in the bible. In living with my father inlaw he doesnt believe in upsetting ur children he reckons that u need to make them happy anr to me thats not acceptable. Everything has a limit and so our children meed to understand that while they still young bcos it will stick with them when they grow.older. My mind is at ease as i have serched scripture and it has lead me to know more as to where i stand as hes mother and how to politely handle everything with my inlaws. It will be a challenge as we live with them but this gives me confident and hope to continue to stand my ground.

  • ciera

    I really recommend professional counseling if it comes to the point where the families just cannot get along.You would be surprised what an objective, intervening third party can do.They can help set up boundaries,decide how to agree in advance, and how to react to a given situation,
    This is especially helpful when you have children,because you don’t want to send them conflicting signals.It’s imperative that you all be on the same page in regards to them,and counseling can certainly help.jmo.

    • yinyangbalance

      sorry but counselors are all about destruction not building up. Their goal is to tear down authority especially fathers.

  • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

    Here’s a similar idea from my friend, Ken Davis: http://www.kendavis.com/relationships-2/generational-synergy/

  • Rachel Gregis

    I find it very frustrating when people deal with conflict by exaggerating the other person’s ideas and making condescending statements, rather than sticking to the points in a respectful manner. I also find it very hypocritical when this is happening in response to an article written about ‘not making a huge confrontation and letting the petty things go”.

    From this statement in the comments: “Certainly any discussion about these things must be done with love and kindness, but it must be done. If the grandparent cannot talk about these issues with an open and loving mind then that is not the fault of the parent”

    …to this response by the original author …..
    “So, my parents should have had a huge confrontation about whose has authority granted by God’s Word?”

    Wait. What?

    The argument keeps being made that there is not scripture to support the point of view that parents may need to confront meddling grandparents, Yet I’ve not seen any scripture presented that says “you must never seek to improve communication with your parents or bring up issues regarding their grand-parenting style for fear of appearing petty”.

    The marriage scriptures talk of leaving the parents, ‘two becoming one’ and of no one putting asunder this union. Granted it might seem to be a far stretch to say that interfering in parenting issues is interfering in that union but really it’s not that far off. When a grandparent interferes with any aspect of how the husband and wife team ‘run’ things, whether it be their relationship, house hold duties, or parenting … they are creating a rift (divide) in the family unit and ultimately the husband/wife team.It can be anything from a mom griping about her son in law to her daughter about what he should/shouldn’t do, to a grandparent stepping in during the disciplining process and making excuses for the child. The bottom line is: It does not follow the spirit of the scriptures: building up and not tearing down.

    I for one have a great interest in protecting my marriage relationship as well as building the best support system I can within my family. Therefore, you better believe if something has the potential for harm and not good, then I will seek to find a resolution through careful and loving communication.

  • Rob

    Jon is absolutely correct in statements. Firstly, the structure of family is identical to that of God and His Son. The Bible says for children to obey their parents and it id the only commandment with a promise. If a parents wishes are being contradicted, then the adult doing so is prompting them to sin.
    Sin is sin….if I steal a paperclip from my aunt, is it not still sinning? Or is this little theft okay because it was my family.
    If you cause a little one to stumble it is better a millstone be tied around your neck and thrown into the sea.
    I see a lack of failure to be head as being a coward or lazy. You must forgive and be gentle, but it doesn’t mean you are to be usurped.
    Chris is guilty here because he cannot find scripture granting grandparents certain rights over parenting.
    I am a parent and my in laws are quite respectful now that I have made sure they know their place…including after the third time threatening they will not see their grandchild.
    Every time I allowed them to control it would crush my wife…she felt she could never be a good parent as long as they would question them.
    So if you want to love your parents more than Gods law…or more than your wife or the your children…follow this method.
    To me it is using scripture to protect a weak leader or someone who is afraid to step on toes….Man up dude God did it in the Temple and we must stand clear for scripture.
    I challenge you to prove Bibilically your view…I am quite safe you won’t be able to do so.

  • Dave Johnson

    So I see the threads etc., but I still have to ask. When my son was 14 I divorced his step mom of 10 years, I then began to rebuild my life and establish a relationship with my now wife of 2 years. During this time my son began to be angry over the divorce etc. and I got him and I counseling to repair the damage. This was done to no avail, I wasn’t aware that my own mother was poisoning his mind behind my back against everything and decision I made. I made attempts to stop it once i found out about it, however it was too late and his mind was set on leaving at 18. He left without finishing high school and ran to live at my ex-wife’s home. This wouldn’t be bad however she is living in a gang,drug, and violent neighborhood (facts via local police and crime reports,not opinion). When he left my own mother financed, and supported the move (or he wouldn’t have done it.) My own mother continues to finance his poor decisions as well. Before my son left he was in a good neighborhood, a private christian school, and living a normal middle class life. However this all came with rules and responsibilities and he wanted to escape those…… and he did of course. This would have or could have ended in just a few short months, however my own mother continues to finance his poor decisions. To the point he has been jumped walking down the street. I cannot seem to get through to my mother that she continues to make things worse by financing his poor choices. My son values her opinion and if she stopped funding the choices, in short order this would end with atleast him getting out of this situation. What do I do?Prayer is great but even the bible says prayer without action is fruitless. Frustrated, scared, angry father.

  • Kamilah

    Help is definitely needed. We live with our grandparents currently so we cannot run away from the constant undermining!! One of my biggest peeves is my son at bed time. He already hates to go to bed he wishes he could play until the sun rises.
    He would first sleep with us until my uncle moved out. When he finally got his own room he was almost two. He had a toddler bed we would sit on the couch in his room until he fell asleep.
    In the middle of the night he would get out of his bed and get into ours we would let him sleep the rest of the night with us. After a couple of months we started to take him back to his room. When he caught on he would go into my grandmother’s room instead. Next we would put him to sleep but would leave and not stay in the room until he fell asleep. He would still go to my grandmothers bed.
    We told her that he is getting big and he has his own room for a reason. We asked that she’d put him back in his room she never did. She claimed he didnt like his bed or it was too small, then it was he was scared of the dark, next it was he did not like the decoration and he needed her. The list goes on. Mind you hes now only 3. And hes like a parrot he repeats everything she says. I know its from her because i will never hear it from him first. They would both beg me for him to sleep with her. After fighting for months i caved in. Then Id try to ween him off of her. ” You can only sleep with grandma on Saturday night.” That was the plan mind you hed still in the middle of the night find his way to her bed. But as long as he went to bed in his room I felt progress.

    On his 4th bday we redid his room, put planets and stars that glew in the dar and got him a full size bed. I told them both that’s it you sleep in your bed. they agreed. It was terrible. He would be in tears crying having separation anxiety. With my grandmother at the door saying , ” But mommy said no, But mommy does not want me to come in.” Making me the bad guy when it has gotten so bad because she cannot let go a little. Now the excuses are the pillows and the stars not the bed is too big even though my son helped us decorate and told hu he wanted even more stars. Next it was he needed warm milk before bed or a lullaby and every idea came from my grandmother, she claims he is still a baby.
    When we finally got on the same accord he went almost right to sleep.after pulled teeth, arguing, being told by evenrone that i am the bad guy…. My grandmother would not go in, she told him he had to be a big boy and it was fine and he would only once in a while sneak to her room.
    Good right?? NOOOOO because it did not last. Lately I have been finding her sleep in his bed. Them making secret plans for her to sleep with him. IDK what to do.

    She is handicapping him. I did not want to to NEED her to fall asleep. It is ok to want but he feels like he NEEDS her and it do not see it having a good outcome. My grandmother is surrounded my brother, nephews, and friends that are grown ass babies. They do not stand on their own two feel, never keep a job or residence without running to my grandmother for help or living off of her or other women. I do not wish the same for my son. Independence is good. I want to to stay my baby forever but i appreciate that he knows that he can be his own person. i don’t want him scared or comfortable with being dependent on anyone when hes a man.

  • Erik

    I know looking back my child will remember my love more than my authority. However, I’m talking about today. My mom and dad are truly awesome people and I’m very blessed to have had been raised by them. However, they can be a little intense in the world of over nurturing. Took me a few yr’s to grasp adulthood and responsibility because of that. Not complaining about that but it was a disadvantage to some degree. When a parent explains that to a grandparent and it’s totally dismissed as overthought on the parents part; that’s degrading. Absolutely no other way to spin that. So lets move past the word “authority” and call it what it really is. Degrading which is disrespectful and wrong. Hope you and your 16 kids are happy and healthy!