Grand Parenting: A Beautiful Investment in the Future

Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children…

Deuteronomy 4:9

With one 19 month-old granddaughter, I am definitely on the early end of the learning curve when it comes to being a grandparent.   Therefore; please allow me to share some of what others and current resources are teaching me about this amazing opportunity to be involved in the life of a grandchild.

First it has to be said that there are as many different roles for grandparents as there are different families and needs. Some grand parenting requires a full-time commitment and for others grand parenting is a weekend together, an afternoon play date, a summer vacation, a chat on the phone, or an exchange of emails.

An increasing number of grandparents are taking a bigger role in their grandkids’ lives.  Some grandparents are the primary caregiver while both parents work or to give a single mom or dad relief.  Maybe you are shouldering primary responsibility because the parents are unavailable or unable to care for their children. Or perhaps you simply want to strengthen the grandparent-grandchild connection so you can make the most of your time together. Whatever your situation, there are practical and emotional issues to consider as you build your relationship with your grandkids.  A good first step to a long and successful relationship with your grandchild is to establish some ground rules with your son or daughter:

  • Be clear about what role you want to have in your grandchild’s life. How often you want to babysit, for example, or whether you’d like to be included in events such as school functions.
  • Talk with parents about their rules. Consistency is important for kids, so know the behavior limits your grandchild has to follow at home and maintain the rules when he or she is with you.
  • Enforce any agreed upon punishment for bad behavior, whether it’s a “time out” or loss of privileges, …
  • Baby proof your home, to ensure safety for infants and toddlers to ensure the parents are comfortable leaving the child with you.

Many grandparents have the benefit of interacting on a level that is once removed from the day-to-day responsibilities of parents and this can make it easier to develop a close bond with grandchildren. From near or far, grandparenting can provide continuity in a child’s life. Grandparents are often the family historians, and can add a rich sense of family tradition to a child’s life. Additionally, contact with grandparents can teach children positive attitudes towards aging and help them develop skills to enhance their own lifelong learning.

Of course, not everything about being a grandparent is great all of the time. Becoming a grandparent at a young age can make some people feel prematurely old and, just as parents do, grandparents sometimes have to deal with colicky babies and moody teenagers. For most though, the benefits of being a grandparent far outweigh the drawbacks.

Even if you are not a “biological” grandparent, you are needed to help nurture future generations.  There are countless opportunities to serve in the role of a “grandparent” in the lives of children who need your influence.  Children at Trinity Baptist Church are among those children.  I recently talked with a woman in our church that has made a personal commitment to learn the names of all the boys and girls involved in our children’s ministries.  What a wonderful commitment to help children at Trinity feel known and cared for when they hear their names!

Research done at Fuller Seminary has unveiled has unveiled surprising and counterintuitive findings with enormous ramifications for the long-term faith development of teenagers and young adults in the United States.  One such finding is that teenagers “need to rub shoulders and build relationships with adults of all ages. Researchers suggest that churches and families wanting to instill deep faith in youth should help them build a web of relationships with committed and caring adults,

In addition to the difference you can make in the lives of children and youth in your own family, you can make a significant difference for children and youth in your faith community and your neighborhood!

One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
Psalm 145:4