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Influencing Grandchildren

Kurt Bruner, The Center for Strong Families

Grandparents in the 21st century face a mix of new opportunities and challenges. Extended life expectancy has dramatically changed the length and look of the empty nest years. Many grandparents now have greater opportunities for work and travel. Tight-knit family relationships have increasingly given way to family members spread over wide geographic distances. Some grandparents face the challenge of getting time with grandchildren because of divorce. A growing number of grandparents have watched circumstances drive them to take primary responsibility for raising their grandchildren. 

In this context, it’s become less clear what role grandparents can best play. Are they just a good source for gifts and free babysitting?  What’s the most important thing a grandparent can do?

STEP ONE: Be There for Them

A grandparent’s first priority is to “be there”… one way or another. “Being there” could mean taking on the challenge posed by miles or strained relationships that might be keeping you from your grandchildren. Technology solutions such as video chatting have helped some grandparents close the gap.

Being there gives you the opportunity to show the kind of unconditional love that even parents can struggle to maintain on a consistent basis. It gives you a chance to tell the family story—the people, places and plot twists that have made your family distinct.

STEP TWO: Nurture their Faith

Most importantly, being there and making memories with your grandchildren gives you the opportunity to impress your faith on them. Psalm 78 presents a concept of extended 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).

Nothing you can give as a grandparent is more valuable than your spiritual legacy, so be very intentional about creating opportunities to nurture faith during the years your grandchildren are receptive to your influence.

Resources

Recommended Books:

  • Extreme Grandparenting by Tim Kimmel and Darcy Kimmel
  • It Starts At Home by Kurt Bruner and Steve Stroope

Prestonwood Support

Prestonwood has a variety of Bible Fellowships for the spiritual development of every person. No matter your age and stage of life, there’s a Bible Fellowship for you. Visit prestonwood.org/connect for more information.

© 2008 Inkling Innovations