Bill Cosby once said, "A grandchild is God's reward for raising a child." I would say that if God were to allow us an opportunity to be more like Him, then it would be called grandparenting. It's hard to think of a more powerful and influential calling within the family structure than that of a grandparent. God has designed a child to naturally gravitate toward his or her grandparent, and that opportunity should never be wasted.
Grandparents seem to have an air of divinity in their favor. We get to do things with our grandchildren that would otherwise be a big no-no, like eating ice cream just before bed or having peanut butter pancakes with whipped cream (a favorite here in our home). But the best part of grandparenting isn't just the fun and games. It is the high and holy ministry that has been given to us. For example, we can show a greater and deeper level of grace more often than busy and pressured parents.
Being grandparents allows one of the most wonderful opportunities known to man—teaching children about life from our vantage point. We have a special place that allows us the freedom to communicate to them about who Jesus is, the power of prayer, the Bible and science, the importance of character, history near and far, and the need for patience and the love of God. Grandparents are generally not in the busy hustle and bustle of everyday life and therefore tend to have more time in our day to just listen and allow children to ask as many questions as they want. We have the time to "smell the roses" and take a walk, go to the park, or play a board game.
Be creative on your own, or use the ideas below to become more intentional about giving your grandchildren a strong spiritual, emotional, and social legacy. Use them as a springboard to create lasting memories all along the way.
1. Travel back. Take a trip to a diner with your grandchildren. Order some burgers and milkshakes, and then take the time to share with them what it was like in the years when you were growing up (whether that was the '60s, '70s, or even '80s) and what you loved about being a kid. Talk about when you were young and what kinds of things you did for entertainment before the age of cell phones, computers, and electronic gadgets.
2. A memory lane adventure. If possible, drive to where you grew up, and show them the house you used to live in. Tell them about the things you liked to do, where you went to school, what you did with your friends. Maybe even drive by the church you attended. Share the highlights of your childhood, and let your grandchildren know that you are praying that these years for them would be as unforgettable as they were to you.
3. Long-distance lunch. Use the internet not only to talk with your grandchildren but to see them as well. Use whatever way is accessible on your particular computer to connect visually and audibly, and then set a certain day and time each week to eat a meal with them. Make it a special time; maybe it's Saturday lunch with Grandma and Grandpa, no matter how many miles are between you. Don't forget to pray with them before your meal and to let them know that you pray every day for them, whether they are at school or at home. You can start building a relationship right away with that child and not miss out on the simple everyday pleasures of life.
4. The great outdoors. The lessons are endless when you step outside of your home. Talk about our Creator God and how He is the One who has made absolutely everything that we see. Start a special garden with the children, and let them see the rewards of hard work, tender care, and maintenance. We, too, must maintain our relationships with God and our family and friends. If we don't, we will have an overgrown garden full of weeds, with no good fruits coming out of it.
5. One hundred percent Americana. Set up a lemonade stand together in front of your house or near a local park. You can make unusual flavors like apple lemonade or pineapple lemonade along with the traditional favorite. Choose to either sell the lemonade or give it away. If you choose to sell it, take the money earned and give it to someone in need. It's a great way to show your grandchild the faithfulness of God, who freely provided the lemons so that we could freely bless someone who needs His love.
6. God made the clouds. We all love to stare at clouds, but it's even better when you are with your grandkids. You can watch as the clouds change from an elephant into a Mickey Mouse head and then into a dragon. Teach the children about how God is the One who made the clouds and how He blesses us with rain. Let them know that one day Jesus will return in those wonderful clouds. The importance of living their lives in a way that pleases and blesses Him is a good lesson to share with them. Share about heaven and how beautiful it is and that one day we all will be there together. Tell them what the Bible says about heaven and what it looks like. Great conversations start with the simple things of life.
7. Thankfulness. Take a tour of your local firehouse. Share with the grandkids how important it is to be thankful for those who risk their lives to keep us safe. Call ahead to make arrangements, and ask if the children can climb on the fire truck, sit inside it, and/or have a tour of the station. Your grandchildren will be impressed and a bit more patriotic the next time they see a fire truck and hear the siren. You could even have them help you bake some cookies to thank the firefighters for all that they do.
8. Short picnic trip. If money is an issue (or even if it's not), you can teach your grandchild to make the best of any situation. This is a great discipline to nurture. Things may be tough financially in some homes. So go on a picnic in your own backyard. Set out a blanket, and bring some music and a Frisbee. Some of the most meaningful things in life don't have to cost a thing!
9. Cultural experience. Add a bit of culture to your grandchild's life by taking him or her to the symphony, a concert, a ballet, a play, a museum, etc. Parents don't often have the time or money to give their children such experiences. Why don't you? Use the occasion to enjoy one another's company, model social skills, and point out likely religious influences on the artist, writer, musician, or historical figure involved.
Taken from Turnaround at Home © 2013 Jack and Lisa Hibbs and Kurt Bruner. Turnaround at Home is published by David C Cook. All rights reserved.
Listen to Jack and Lisa Hibbs on a recent FamilyLife Today® interview.
1. Read, “Grandchildren: Our Crowning Achievement.”
2. Barbara Rainey and Susan Yates help women discover a new purpose and passion after the children leave home in their book, Barbara and Susan’s Guide to the Empty Nest.
3. In his book, Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood, Dennis Rainey challenges men of all ages to step and assume their God-given responsibilities. Click here to purchase.