I have seen grandmothers pass their favoritism on to the next generation. If one child is not particularly liked, then his children won’t be either.
I have seen grandmothers show that favoritism in gifts, in words, and most shameful of all, in hugs. I have seen grandchildren pitted against one another, one side always believed over the other, regardless of evidence. I have seen grandchildren used to create tension between their parents, either siblings of one another, or spouses.
Children should be sacred ground when it comes to family squabbles. You never hurt a child, regardless whose he is. If there is something unnatural about a mother hurting her own child, there is something just plain loathsome about a grandmother doing it. Isn’t that why the story of Athaliah, the wicked queen who had all her grandchildren killed to secure her own reign, horrifies us? Women like that deserve the worst of punishments, and God made sure Athaliah got hers.
Then there is the matter of “blood.” I have seen blood grandchildren obviously favored over adopted. I have seen step-grandchildren totally ignored. A child cannot help where he came from. If he has been specially chosen to be in the family, he should be treated as family as much as any other child—he IS family.
Naomi is the perfect example. Ruth was her daughter-in-law, not her daughter. Boaz may have been a distant relative, but he was not her son. Yet how did she accept their child? So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son…Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse, Ruth 4:13,16. According to Keil, “became his nurse” is tantamount to adopting him as her own son, not just her grandson. Could she have made her love and acceptance of this child any clearer?
Surely a grandmother should not need to be told to love her grandchildren. Even if there is some legitimate reason for an estrangement with their parents, do not take it out on the children. It is not their fault how their parents act. The list of pagan sins in Romans 1:28-32 includes “without natural affection” in the KJV and ASV. That is translated “heartless” in the ESV. Only a heartless grandmother refuses her grandchildren. Only a heartless mother-in-law does it to retaliate against a daughter- or son-in-law.
Naomi’s love and acceptance of Ruth in all the ways we have discussed made for a relationship that has transcended the ages. Ruth returned that love with her own genuine affection, with acceptance, and with the physical care every older parent has a right to expect. Naomi and Ruth were not physically related in any way at all, but they treated one another as if they were, in fact, better than some blood relatives treat one another. This is the way it is supposed to work. May we all work harder to make it happen in our own homes.
So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife; and he went in unto her, and Jehovah gave her conception, and she bare a son. And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be Jehovah, who has not left you this day without a near kinsman; and let his name be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto you a restorer of life, and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him, Ruth 4:13-15