Hands Off? When It’s Hard to Be Quiet
—Grace & Truth Linkup

Do you really want my advice?

Or do I need to stay hands off and be quiet?

Listening to the Young Moms

I’m sitting in the rocking chair in my living room, holding my newest grandbaby as he sleeps. I’m listening to the young moms in the room. They’re sharing their experiences of parenting in front of their parents.

And how difficult it can be.

I lean in closer. I want to hear them clearly.

This is what they say: As young parents, they want encouragement from us, their parents.

They want our support. They want our presence. They want our love.

And they even want our advice, when needed.

But they don’t want our judgment.

My Advice?

That’s where it gets tricky with us older parents and now grandparents. Our advice isn’t as needed as often as we think.

And especially not when it flows out of judgment.

Sure, we do know some hacks and tricks. We have solid advice to give. We have years of wisdom built in.

Yet part of our wisdom requires our exercise of discernment, knowing what to share and what not to share, when to step in and when to back off.

I’m still on the learning curve. It’s hard to stay hands-off (or more importantly, mouth-closed) when I want to step in and make things easier for my kids with their kids.

But as I hear one of the young mothers saying now:

“You all had your turn. Now it’s our turn.”

Our Turn for Discretion

And she’s right. We’ve been in their shoes, but they no longer fit us.

We usually know it deep down. It’s just hard to put it into practice on the surface.

We can learn to do it though. It just takes practice. Not just in parenting relationships, but in ANY relationship. 

And as we practice keeping our advice to ourselves unless asked, we’ll mess up. We’ll often say the wrong thing at the wrong time. We’ll sometimes interfere when we should have butted out.

Even though our wrinkles suggest otherwise, we’re still new to the game ourselves. We still are growing. We still are being transformed into the image of Christ at a slower pace than we (and our kids) might prefer.

But as in the past, so also in the future:

God gives enough grace to go around.

There’s hands-on grace for the grandkids when they make mistakes. There’s hands-on grace for the parents when they make mistakes.

And there’s hands-on grace for us older generation when we make mistakes, too.

None of us are immune from the human condition of falls and failures. But neither are any of beyond the reach of God’s hands of relentless and unfailing love. From him to us. And from us to each other.

Let Love wipe away a lot of offenses (1 Peter 4:8).

Featured Post—On Trust

Lauren Spark’s words spoke to my soul when I read them this week:

And in His kind way, God whispered, “I will speak truth into the mess.” and “I love them even more than you do.” and “I can handle it.” I confess that this initially caused me additional anxiety. But if I’m honest, I also felt relief. I can’t know. I can’t do. I can only pray and be.

I thank God that I don’t have to know how to fix every relationship problem. And that sometimes I don’t even need to do anything. Except step back and let God work.

“I can only pray and be.”

Read all of Lauren’s post here at her blog, then link up your own blog posts below.


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23 thoughts on “Hands Off? When It’s Hard to Be Quiet
—Grace & Truth Linkup

  1. Joanne Viola

    I often joke with my family that God has invisible duct tape that He applies when I am tempted to speak out instead of remain quiet. As I watch my children parent, I realize how challenging these days are for them. More than my advice, they need my support and encouragement. I pray God gives me the words and actions to convey both.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re a great example for me, Joanne. I need to borrow a roll of your duct tape. 🙂 For the most part I’ve learned to keep quiet, but there have been occasions when I offered unsolicited advice. It rarely goes well, so you’d think I’d learn. Sigh. Thus my need for God’s grace.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Ha. It’s a lesson I haven’t mastered yet, Linda, so I write to remind myself. The older my daughters get, the more I realize I need to give less advice (parenting or otherwise), but sometimes it slips out at the worst times. We all have to give each other grace and forgiveness to keep relationships working smoothly.

  2. Lynn

    Grace! So thankful for grace. My grand daughter is almost a teen and the last few months I’ve been having a hard time adapting to the change in our relationship. Sometimes I want to give advice, and learning instead to ask “what can I do to build our relationship?” And give myself grace during this time that can be frustrating! Your words are wise here!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      What a wonderful question to ask yourself, Lynn! My oldest granddaughter is just 3, so I have a few years to get prepared for the teen years again. I do pray that I’ll have a relationship with my grandkids no matter their age, so you are encouraging me.

  3. Pam Ecrement

    Well said, Lisa. And as one whose grandchildren are older (teens and young adults), I can say it can still be a challenge except our daughter and son have a better understanding of our concerns since they have dealt more with parenting than they did when their children were “littles”.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Ah, good point, Pam! I need to remember that it will keep changing the longer my own kids are parents. Life never stays the same, yes? I wish my own mother were still here so I could talk about these things with her. She was good at keeping quiet until asked but had wise advice when I needed it.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m still a fairly new grandparent myself (3 years), so I’m trying to learn from those who have been doing it for years. I’m glad we can learn from each other, even though experience still teaches us the most, usually the hard way! 🙂 God is very patient with our learning curves.

  4. Lois Flowers

    Oh Lisa, I needed this today. My mom stayed with us after we brought our older daughter home from China. She was giving advice here and there, and I finally had to tell her that what I really needed–as an almost-31-year-old, first-time mom of a 10-month-old–was for her to tell me I could do it. Thankfully, she accepted that and tried her best! I’m now in the spot of trying to discern when to speak and when to be quiet when it comes to that same baby, who is now a college sophomore. She still needs my input, but I’m finding I need lots of wisdom and discernment about how much and when. Thanks for sharing YOUR wisdom here, my friend.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “tried her best” – That’s all we can expect from others AND from ourselves. I have to give myself grace when I try and try to be quiet, but finally something does come out unsolicited. 😉 Granted, sometimes we do need to speak up for everyone’s good. But those times are likely far fewer than we think. lol. Praying for you as you negotiate those in-between years of childhood and adulthood with your college daughter, Lois. Those are some tricky years but also wonderful ones!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Debbie. And that reminds me of James 1:19:
      “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”

      This advice has been going around for a long time. 🙂 And yet we still need it as much as ever.

  5. Donna

    Lisa, GREAT advice here. I have learned the hard way to hold my tongue. I didn’t really feel I was being judgmental, but the point is, it came across that way. I had to learn to be intuitive, just as I was as a parent, in tune with the nuances of each child, to know when to speak. And I don’t have to be johnny on the spot with advice-nothing wrong with waiting until asked. Besides, we raised our kids to release them; and that means sometimes it’s trial and error for them too, but we are the safety net!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      This is often the hardest thing for me: “And I don’t have to be johnny on the spot with advice–nothing wrong with waiting until asked.” Sometimes I think the advice just can’t wait. But almost always, it can. lol. And when later comes, I realize maybe it wasn’t as needed in the moment as I thought. I’m learning the hard way too, Donna. And just when I think I’ve got it, I prove that I don’t. Our kids need patience with us as much as need patience with them. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Lol. I’m just spewing out the overflow from my own head, Lauren. 🙂 I’m using up all my patience trying to keep quiet. God’s having to work overtime in supplying me with fresh amounts every morning.

  6. Lisa Jordan

    I love this post. I listen to the old wives’ tales from my mother’s generation and shake my head. I’m sure my sons’ generation is thinking that about us. I don’t want to be one of those nagging women who feels her opinion is the only correct one. I love what you said here–Yet part of our wisdom requires our exercise of discernment, knowing what to share and what not to share, when to step in and when to back off. I made so many parenting mistakes that I’d had to see passed onto the next generation. I just pray and ask God to help them to be the best parents possible.

  7. April Harris

    It is hard not to give unsolicited advice, yet I remember how upset I was as a new parent when I received it! You have written so beautifully and wisely on this emotive subject, Lisa. I appreciate you sharing with the Hearth and Soul Link Party. Thank you! Have a wonderful weekend.

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