When your children have children of their own, you become a grandparent. Whether unexpected or long awaited, God has given you the great opportunity to influence young lives once again. While the Lord has given us guidelines and principles for parenting and some examples in Scripture of grand-parenting as well, there may be times when parents or grandparents simply do not know what to do about some of the struggles they face. Experience It has been said that experience is the best teacher. Whether your experience with parenting was positive or negative, many lessons were learned. You can always look back and see where you could have done better. However, by the time you have adult children, you have learned through trial and error, and hopefully have a more mature view of parenting.
Unfortunately, some grandparents never learn to accept the way their children choose to raise their grandchildren. They try to change what they do not agree with. Remember that the same powerful tool that was at your access as a parent is still readily available to parents today – prayer! It’s important that you not meddle in your children’s parenting practices unless there is a potential threat to their children.
Your children may have found solutions for handling things with their children that you never considered when you were parenting. You might even find that their way is the best way. Prepare to be of help should the parents need your input. Keep an open, flowing relationship with them. There may be times when the Lord will give you an open door to share a valuable suggestion or to make a needed comment. If so, it will be nonthreatening and well received. Since you are learning until the day that you die, you still don’t know it all.
If you leave the definition of grandparenting to the world, you miss out on the true value of what God intended it to be. In today’s society, some grandparents have to become fulltime parents all over again. This may be due to legitimate circumstances, but more often it is due to negligence by one or both parents. Maybe you were raised by a loving grandparent. Praise the Lord for it! God uses those situations in powerful ways. Psalm 27:10 says, “Though my father and my mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.” God has a tender place in His heart for children who have been neglected and He will provide loving care for them.
The opportunity to grandparent is an awesome one. Your vision about how life works, and how to navigate through its obstacles has become clearer so that you are less apt to jump on your grandchildren about every little thing that isn’t to your liking. And you have also learned how to fight battles primarily on your knees. You now possess enough patience to love your grandchildren unconditionally – even the wayward ones.
In 2 Timothy 1:5, the apostle Paul tells us how Lois shared her faith with her daughter Eunice, and Eunice did the same with her son Timothy. These two women no doubt told him of the mighty acts of the Lord and all He had done for them (Ps. 71:16).
Generations later, Timothy’s faith matured. What a godly influence was handed down to him by his grandmother Lois. Psalm 128:6 says, “May you live to see your children’s children.” The Lord is expecting grandparents to pass on their legacy of faith. You can teach your grandchildren about a loving and caring God and share with them all the wonderful things He has done for you. Deuteronomy 4:9 says, “Be careful to watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”
Grandchildren always enjoy visits with grandma and grandpa. What a precious privilege to sit the little ones on your lap and lavish them with hugs and kisses and security. What a precious privilege to weave God into those teachable moments when you can teach them something about Him. Little do they realize the spiritual process that has begun!
As your grandchildren grow older, become informed about the things that are bombarding young people today. Frequent communication with them keeps you in touch their interests and abilities. Get to learn what they like and dislike. Find out what kind of music they are listening to, what they are watching and what they are reading, as these things will tell you something about them. Don’t become discouraged and overly critical with their choices. Take the opportunity to inquire about developing tastes. What you learn could put you in touch with a particular need they may have.
Remember, you cannot change their appetites in an occasional visit. Lovingly and prayerfully seek to bring them into a better knowledge and understanding of who God is and what He is doing. Let them see Christ radiating from you.
Take full advantage of every opportunity with them. They may have needs that only you can meet. Pray for the energy and strength to keep up with them. Look for opportunities to take them on small outings or trips. Even day trips can prove to be very fruitful. It won’t be long before their social lives take precedence over visiting grandma and grandpa.
But children have wonderful memories. When they get older they will remember the family members who did special things with them, and will reflect on the impact grandparents made on their lives. To this day I remember vividly the grandparents I was blessed with, and how I came to know the Lord Jesus through them.
By Pat Stuart
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org