Parents, yes—but this article is on the subject of grandparents. Let’s realize that the art of grandparenting in the main has been lost. Yet some of the most important people in the family are grandparents.
When once asked about training a child, Napoleon answered that it was done “with their grandparents.”
And when do you begin training for grandparenthood? It is when you are a child. Grandparents learn how to become a grandparent as children from their grandparents! Grandparents are indeed role models for future grandparents!
Look at Paul’s admonitions to a young Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:5: “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” Paul said that the unfeigned faith that was in Timothy dwelt first in his grandmother. Obviously this example had a wonderful effect not only on Timothy’s mother, Eunice, but also on Timothy.
There are at least three things in life that we personally don’t have much to say about:
1) when we are born, 2) when we die, and 3) when we become grandparents. For the majority of us, we will one day become grandparents. We can apply this spiritually as well, within the Church or future Family of God.
Today, there are more grandparents than ever as people are living longer and generally are in better health. According to a United States Census Bureau from 1990, there were 63,248,394 children under 18 years of age. Of those, 3,493,999 were living with their grandparents. Then, according to the U.S. Census Bureau “facts for feature” of July 2008, the number rose to 6.1 million grandparents whose grandchildren younger than 18 lived with them. Two and a half million grandparents are caregivers responsible for the most basic needs (food, shelter, clothing, etc.) of one or more of the grandchildren who live with them. It becomes obvious that the role of a grandparent has changed in today’s society, especially with the continuing breakdown of families. There are many, many more facts and figures you could search out, but the bottom line is this: Do we as God’s people realize the tremendous weight and responsibility a grandparent carries?
Leviticus 19:32 states, “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord.” God instructs us to respect old age and its accompanying wisdom.
Therefore, we can readily understand the importance of grandparents and grandchildren “connecting.” Obviously in this less-than-perfect society, this is seldom possible to the extent that God intended. Nevertheless, whenever we do have the opportunity to connect—whether with visits, Feasts, trips to see each other, phone, e-mail, letter, or whatever means—the connection is vital for future generations.
The importance of grandparenting is captured perhaps best in Proverbs 17:6: “Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.” There is great joy in seeing grandchildren grow up. I can speak as a grandfather myself. There are many things we can pass on to our grandchildren. The most important and most valuable asset of any grandparent is his or her experience. Life is filled with so many lessons.
Young people need to be encouraged by their grandparents where suitable—to seek grandparents’ experience. It is a wise young person who takes advantage of his grandparents’ knowledge.
In sharing yourself as a grandparent, you are giving your grandchildren your unique outlook on life, your ways, your memories, your skills and interests, and most of all, your love. As the child grows and develops wider knowledge, this can become more and more significant. One cardinal rule of effective grandparenting is to treat all grandchildren in an equitable manner.
Our grandchildren need to know that we are there for them, that we love them. Grandparents can be a point of stability and comfort for their own children and their grandchildren. Often grandparents are in the best situation to provide the emotional and spiritual nurturance the children need.
As a grandparent, you bring a wealth of wonderful resources for your children to enjoy. Adults who have had a good relationship with their grandparents show a heightened self-respect, a greater chance of success in life, and a strong sense of family values.
One of the privileges that comes with the role of a grandfather is being a wise and trusted counselor. You can be a consistent long-term source of encouragement as your grandchildren grow through the various stages of their lives.
There’s a saying, “When an elderly person dies, a library burns down.” A grandparent is a bridge to another era. Family history can be relived in stories from granddad and grandma—stories from “the good ol’ days,” as we tend to say.
Children are natural observers, and they learn powerful, lasting lessons from watching and listening to a grandparent who goes through life with dignity and selflessness, and who provides a strong sense of family. This relationship with your children and grandchildren is with those who will be the leaders of the next generation. As we look forward to a world ahead where families will learn the true value of each other, when grandparents will fulfill their God-ordained role, think about our legacy as grandparents today that will extend into future generations.
For today in God’s Church, many of us are grandparents to all the children within God’s Family. These children, these future grandparents, also need to see and feel the faithfulness in you as you strive to be the best you can be.
For many, as seniors—the Titus 2 men and women of God—we represent grandparents they may not have due to other circumstances, so our examples within our physical and spiritual families will impact the minds of children who will be the grandparents of tomorrow.
Take time to meditate and think on these things.