Grandparents today face a mix of fresh opportunities and challenges. Extended life expectancy has dramatically changed the look of the empty nest years. Although families in recent years lived in close proximity to one another for generations, families are often separated today by a great distance. Strained relationships and divided homes increase the hurdles for grandparent involvement. A growing number of grandparents are assuming the complete responsibility of raising their grandchildren.
Considering today’s culture, how can a grandparent maximize their role and influence with their grandchildren?
Step One: Be Involved
The first step to maximizing a grandparent’s influence is to be present and involved. As calendars fill with work, social activities, and travel, grandparents should recognize the importance of the involvement in the lives of their grandchildren. Grandparents should accept the challenges posed by distance and strained relationships in order to be present. Technology overcomes many of these hurdles and closes the distance gap.
As an involved grandparent, you have the opportunity to show the kind of unconditional love that even parents struggle to maintain on a consistent basis. Your presence gives you a chance to tell the family story including people, places, and plot twists that have made your family distinct. Share stories from your childhood including your struggles, failures, and successes. Take your grandkids on adventures teaching them how to skip a rock and build and fly a kite. Share your secret family recipes and cook them together.
Every investment of time is an investment in the relationship.
Step Two: Nurture their faith
As you strengthen your relationship, your display of unconditional love earns you the right to be heard. Your opinion matters. Your perspective is valued. Your faith will also be respected and you have the wonderful opportunity to impress your faith on your grandchildren. What a blessing!
Psalm 78 presents the vision and value of a leaving a spiritual heritage: “He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then, they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.” Psalm 78:5–7
Create opportunities to share you journey as a follower of Christ. Open conversations to share how God has proven Himself Faithful to you through the years. Celebrate your answered prayers and invite them to share their prayer requests with you. This conversation can be an ongoing conversation.
Your spiritual legacy is the most valuable gift you can give your grandchildren.