“If I knew Grandparenting was so great, I would have been a grandparent FIRST!” My Mom told me this after she had spent a delightful day playing at the park, having a picnic, and reading books with my preschool children and when they needed reigning in, she brought them to me; she had the fun, and I got to parent. Grandparents often get the joys of being with the kiddos without all the hassle and worry. This doesn’t mean Grandparents don’t work when they are on child-duty, but it does mean that they don’t have ultimate responsibility.
Grandparents are in a unique role as there are benefits to their stage of life that they didn’t have when they were younger. Now, of course this doesn’t apply to every Grandparent, but for many gone are the days of early alarm clocks, a 5-day work week, and evenings filled with soccer practices, piano lessons, and play dates. Time can be considered more at the discretion of the Grandparent with a freedom of choice they haven’t previously enjoyed. Finances don’t have to be designated for orthodontic braces, prom dresses, college fees, or wedding receptions. With these responsibilities behind them, Grandparents have a choice they can spend on their adult children and their growing families.
How best can Grandparents make the most of these precious years with their grandchildren? How can the former generation influence the future generation? It’s not a matter of making a “to do” list, but rather a “to be” list.
- G – Get your wisdom from God. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Isaiah 46:4, NIV) God has gotten you this far, He can be there to help give you the strength and wisdom you’ll need to influence the next generation. Ask God to give you the opportunities you need to have those teachable moments with your Grandchildren that they will carry with them the rest of their lives.
- R – Remember those funny, fun and frantic life stories. A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired. (Proverbs 17:22, MSG) My Grandmother told me stories of having a goat-cart to get around town, putting rouge on her knees when she went out dancing the Charleston in the 1920s, listening around the radio to “The Shadow” in the 1930s, and remembering the first movie she ever saw (1915, “The Champion” with Charlie Chaplin). What fun it was to hear about “ the good ole’ days” and how encouraging to know that the God that sustained my Grandparents would also see me through.
- A – Answer questions and Ask just as many. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4, NIV) Take the time to engage in conversation. Don’t let those teachable moments slide by! Also, if you have a Grandchild who tends not to initiate conversation, take the time to seek them out and ask about their lives – what they are experiencing, what they think and what decisions they are making.
- N – Never miss a moment to be an “encourager”. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11, ESV) Parents and children face many challenges on a day-to-day basis. As a grandparent, look for the silver lining and the positive. You never know how your words of encouragement can build up relationships, help navigate conflict and encourage perseverance through tough times.
- D – Disciple the next generation. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35, NIV) Your best gift to your grandchildren is loving them well. Never miss out on giving a hug, speaking about your devotion to Jesus and showing appreciation for what makes them special. Loving family relationships built on Christ is a strong witness to the world and a blessing that your Grandchildren will carry with them the rest of their lives.
Dear Reader, what a privilege it is to be a Grandparent. Your relationship is a powerful opportunity to influence the next generation in significant ways. You’ve lived a lifetime – it’s now time to pass on all you’ve learned and invest in these young lives. Look and cultivate all the Teachable Moments you can find – you’ll be glad you did and so will your grandchildren.
Fond blessings to you! As always, Elizabeth
PS – do you know a Grandparent who may find this article helpful? Could you kindly consider passing this blog post on to them? I’d appreciate it and I bet they would too. Let’s make every Teachable Moment count!