Mothering is the calling and the gift that came to me even though I did not have either the wisdom or the optimism to pray for it. Twenty-four years into the journey, I’m still learning, and my kids are good teachers. Because my husband and I were “late bloomers” in a part of the world where people tend to marry and start their families early, quite a few of our friends had already become grandparents while we were still up to our fetlocks in parenting. Even after our oldest son married, the idea of becoming a grandparent was nowhere on my radar — and then my first grandchild was born.
Made in the express image and likeness of his dad, my grandson was instantly “knowable” and soon became a kindred spirit. Together we’ve spread paint on paper and on popsicle sticks; we’ve made cookies and craft projects and played in the snow. Our long walks through the woods with the dog or down the road with the stroller have made him a toddler-ace at identifying flowers and making conversation with the neighbor’s donkey.
Resources for Grandparents-in-Training
Like his dad and his uncles, my grandson is also a good teacher. However, even after the birth of his baby sister, I’m well aware that I’m still a grandmother-in-training.
Phyllis and Andrew LePeau have provided a Life Guide Bible Study that encourages me to open the Word of God and to step into its wise instruction for grandparenting well. In Grandparenting: Loving Our Children’s Children (Lifeguide Bible Studies), the LePeaus have a light touch, likely cultivated by their own 13 grands. And since, in their opinion, “grandchildren are the reward for not killing your kids,” I want to learn from both the positive and the negative Biblical examples so I can be a blessing to future generations.
According to the study, the greatest blessing we can give to our grandchildren is a solid relationship with their parents. We bless them well by layering our affection, our time, our prayers, and our teaching about God on top of what their parents are trying to do. Analyzing the content of Old Testament blessings reminds me of the importance of my words (spoken and written), of expressing high value for their little lives, of picturing a special future for them, and of making an active commitment to their good.
When viewed through the lens of loving our children by loving their children, the story of Ruth becomes a lesson in accepting my daughters-in-law as if they were my own children. Isaac and Rebekah’s regretful favoritism becomes a cautionary tale about multi-generational dysfunction. Jesus’ teaching about forgiveness is the lubricant that prevents a family’s relational gears from grinding and wearing. The little known story of Barzillai, aide to King David, offers wisdom about stepping aside and giving adult children the gifts of freedom and encouragement.
The profound sacredness of loving our children and their children leads to a role that is fun, challenging, and necessary. Michele Howe asserts that There’s a Reason They Call It Grandparenting , and then goes on to distinguish between run of the mill grandparents and GRAND parents:
“A grandparent seeks to pack a positive punch of biblical influence into their grandchildren’s lives. They prayerfully seek out the most effective ways to lend a hand to their adult children in both practical and fun ways. They don’t simply seek to spoil their grandchildren with good times or material extras . . . The wise grandparent will do everything they can to demonstrate and illustrate the love of Jesus Christ to their grandchildren. . . . Grandparents understand how fleeting life is and proactively look for divine opportunities to point their grandchildren to Jesus.”
Grand Ideas for Maximum Impact
Howe expands on her definition with practical counsel around hospitality, relationship building, and unconditional love. “Grand Ideas” at the end of each chapter provide support and inspiration for offering spiritual instruction. Cheering on our grandchildren is a priority whether they live close by or even if distance adds to the challenge.
- Set aside time and money and energy to invest in that all-important relationship. Make the most of every opportunity to connect.
- Become a student of your grandchild’s uniqueness so you’ll know their love language and how to communicate with them.
- Listen with patience to their struggles and successes. Let them know you have their full attention and support.
- Get creative in engineering opportunities to be with your grandchildren; e.g. picking them up from school, shuttling them to their activities.
- Never stop praying for any of your grandkids — and their parents.
- In challenging seasons of family life, be a safe haven. On a fallen planet, illness, divorce, and struggles with addiction can be devastating, but a caring grandparent can provide stability.
The opportunity to have an impact on another generation is a humbling privilege. Working to be a transforming influence in the lives of our children’s children is an investment in our family’s future and a journey that is sure to keep a grandparent’s faith vibrant and growing.
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