Ideas for Connecting With Your Grandkids
God has designed faith to be passed down from generation to generation. Mary Larmoyeux shares her wisdom as "Nana" on how to make connections with grandchildren. A grandparent, Mary explains, knows how fast time goes by and why it's therefore so natural for grandparents to slow things down and enjoy every moment. Grandparents see things from a different perspective than when they were in the thick of the busy, day-to-day life of parenting.
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www.legacyconnection.org) and her husband, Jim, live near Little Rock, Arkansas. They have two children and eight grandchildren. A former writer for FamilyLife, Mary has written numerous articles and several books. She is the co-author of The Grandparent Connection: 365 Ways to Connect With Your Grandchild’s Heart and the author of ...more
Mary Larmoyeux shares her wisdom as “Nana” on how to make connections with grandchildren. This is especially important when passing down spiritual truths from generation to generation.
Ideas for Connecting With Your Grandkids
Bob: Each one of us will leave a legacy. Mary Larmoyeux says, as grandparents, we ought to be more intentional about the legacy we hope to be leaving to our grandkids.
Mary: I do think a lot about when I’m gone. I want them to know that they had grandparents, who loved them and prayed for them. I know I write in my Bible when things happen, probably for the last 25 years—20/25 years—dates and what happened or problems and how God answered it. Someday, someone will probably look at that and say, “Huh, you know, God does answer prayers.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, July 27th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You’ll find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Have you thought about what it is you’re doing that will leave an intentional legacy for your children and your grandchildren? We’ll talk more about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. I just got back from doing a little grandparenting/a little fresh grandparenting.
Ann: Wait; what happened? Where were you?
Bob: We had gone to visit our son and daughter-in-law in Texas. They just had a new grandbaby, so we went. We were with their four-year-old and the new grandbaby.
I didn’t know there is such a thing—there is now a product that’s markers for drawing, but the markers only work on a special kind of paper. Have you seen this?
Dave: No; I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Bob: If you have these markers, and you write on the wall, or you write on the rug or anything, it doesn’t make a mark. But you use this special paper, and the marker shows up on that kind of paper.
Ann: Where was this when our kids were little?
Bob: I know! I’m learning so much about the cool new apps and the cool new toys! I did so much drawing; we did a lot of tracing of hands. My granddaughter kept leaving my thumb off. I go, “I only have four fingers! You have to add a thumb!” We had a great time. Being a grandparent is a lot of fun; because at the end of the day, you can leave. [Laughter]
Ann: Maybe that’s what the grandfathers say; although getting a good night’s sleep is pretty nice these days.
Bob: Yes, yes. Here’s the other thing I think about when I think about grandparenting—when I was a kid, and my grandparents would come to visit, they were so old!
Ann: Yes! But we’re not!
Bob: Now, I go visit my grandkids; and I’m so young! [Laughter]
Dave: I don’t think our grandkids are thinking that.
Bob: We have somebody joining us today who loves being a nanna. Mary Larmoyeux is with us on FamilyLife Today. Welcome back!
Mary: Bob, it’s great to be here.
Bob: Mary is the first person I every talked to when I called FamilyLife®, back in 1992, when we first were starting this conversation about starting a radio program.
Dave: You mean she answered the phone?
Bob: She was Dennis’s personal assistant. Dennis had left a phone message for me, and I called back; and I got his assistant, Mary Larmoyeux. She’s the first person I ever talked to.
Dave: You know, when I called you back, after you left a message for me, I got you. [Laughter] You didn’t have an assistant. [Laughter]
Bob: Well, yes, things work that way sometimes. [Laughter]
Mary is/was here—you were here 26 years.
Bob: In addition to being a personal assistant to Dennis, she went on to be a staff writer for us—wrote hundreds of articles that are still available on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com—is not only a great writer—but is, as I said, she’s a great nanna.
You are in your groove in life; aren’t you?
Mary: I love being home, and I love being a grandparent. My grandkids—none of them live right next to me. The ones who are the closest are the older grandkids; they live about 30-45 minutes away. The others live thousands of miles away.
Bob: So you get to see some of your grandkids somewhat regularly; the others occasionally?
Mary: Occasionally, yes.
Bob: Mary wrote a book—we’ve talked about this before on FamilyLife Today—a book called The Grandparent Connection: 365 Ways to Connect with Your Grandchild’s Heart. It’s full of creative ideas/ways to engage. Then, you’ve written this new book called One-of-a-Kind Grandparent Connection: Building a Legacy with Your Grandchild. You are very intentional as a grandparent; you see this as a God-given responsibility.
Mary: I do because I think the faith of the next generation—that God’s design is for it be passed down in families, where God said that one generation is to tell the next generation. I look on my ministry—my love for Christ; and my husband, Jim; and then my family—and to pass that legacy on. That’s what I see as my most important role in life.
Ann: Mary, is that something you saw passed on into your life, or is this something new? Is this something that you’re thinking, “Oh, I want this,” and it’s a new thought?
Mary: When I was growing up, my dad’s parents were alive; and I was really close to them. My grandmother was “Nanna,” and that’s why I wanted to be Nanna, too. She meant a whole lot to me, and we spent a lot of time. We would do simple things, whether it’s paper dolls, or making things, or just spending time with her. I wanted to be like her.
Dave: Did you get to pick your grandmother name?
Mary: Yes, I did.
Dave: You did!
Mary: I did get to pick it. Our oldest son, when they were pregnant, he said, “Who do you want to be?” I said, “I want to be Nanna”; I told him why. His daughter called me “Nina.” She’d go, “Nina,” “Nanna.” It was really confusing, because of bananas. [Laughter] She was calling me Nina; I said, “That’s fine, Chris. Just let her call me Nina.” He goes, “No, you want to be Nanna; you’ll be Nanna.” [Laughter] So I got to be Nanna.
Ann: I had a connection with my grandmother; I was named after her. I just felt like, “She loves me so much.” It filled me up!
Do you think that, for you, that has filled you up?—being a grandmother?
Mary: Yes, I did feel unconditional love. I feel that for my grandkids, and I want to show them unconditional love. Yes, I agree with you.
Dave: I love, at the beginning of chapter 11, you have kindergarten kids talking about what grandparents are. Did you see this?
Bob: I did.
Dave: This is really cute. It says—this is from—what are they?—five/six years old?
Mary: Yes, they were.
“Grandmas and grandpas are older than mothers and fathers and like to hold grandchildren in their laps and hug them.” Amen!
“They like to answer questions.”
“When they read to us,”—this is great—“When they read to us, they don’t skip words, and they never care if we ask for the same story over again,” which is different than when you’re a parent; you know?
“They don’t say, ‘Hurry up!’” Is that true?
Dave: “They usually have lots of quarters.” [Laughter] That’s a good one!
“They don’t have to do anything except be there when we come to
Mary: That’s pretty neat; yes.
Dave: That’s what we’re talking about.
This is classic: “They shouldn’t play hard or run.” [Laughter]
“They especially like to read stories to grandchildren from big books with lots of pictures.”
That’s somewhat of the truth of what a grandchild feels. I love the part that “They don’t hurry.”
Dave: Because, when you’re parents, it’s always in a hurry; and you are skipping words, because you’re trying to get the book read so they can get to bed. Yet, as a grandmother or grandfather—what is it about that time now, as a grandparent, that makes you slow down and sort of seize the moment? What do you think?
Mary: I think it’s because you realize how fast time goes by. I think I’m a better grandmother than I was a mother, really. Things that were problems aren’t as big of a problem. I have some perspective on life.
Mother always used to say, “Things have a way of working out,” and sometimes it would irritate me. It was like she wasn’t even all that bothered—I mean, she listened; she was sympathetic—but she was like, “It’s going to work out! I promise you!” It always did. I know it’s from Romans, really, how “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose,”—I know that’s true—when you’re in the moment, you might not feel like it.
I think it’s all that perspective. Tomorrow’s not promised, so I really do want to make the most of today. When I’m with my grandkids, I don’t know if I’ll be with them tomorrow; and I don’t know if they’ll be living close to me either. It’s like realizing, “Today.”
Bob: Mary, is there something that God has for us, as grandparents, to do that we can do better than moms and dads can do; do you think?
Mary: I think sometimes we might be able to listen better because we’re not so busy. We’ve got more perspective. I really do think we can do that. One thing that surprised me, as my grandkids have gotten older—especially with long-distance grandkids and things—because you can still have that wonderful relationship. You can still talk to them, and ask them what’s going on, and how you can pray for them. Ask them to share things, and they will.
One time one of my grandkids, who lives long distance, sent me a text. It was like: “Please pray for me, because I’m getting ready to do something that’s really scary,” or something like that. She didn’t say anything about what it was. I did; I prayed for her. I had no idea what it was. I texted her back, but she didn’t answer. I ended up texting her dad, trying to see, “What in the world could this be?” I found out what it was; she was riding motorcycles up and down some mountains. She had a good time. I don’t really know if she was supposed to be doing that. [Laughter] I don’t think she was. I felt honored that she texted me to say to pray for her. It’s just a whole different relationship.
Dave: It’s almost like—I don’t know; maybe this has been written before; it just hit me—it’s almost like, when you’re a parent, and in the middle of the parenting season—whether they’re little/especially if they’re little—it’s just chaos. You can’t even see outside their room. It’s like you can see as far as the wall, then the bathroom, and the poopy diapers, and all that. You’re just in it.
But when you become a grandparent, it’s almost like you—it’s like a drone; you lift way up; you’re able to look down—and you can see the road ahead. You can see beyond, because you’ve been there. You’re like, “Oh, this isn’t that big of a deal.” When you’re a parent, you think it is; but it really isn’t. “It’s going to be okay.” Is that somewhat true?
Bob: Here’s the illustration that comes to mind as you’re describing this. You’ve been on the sidelines at a football game, with the coaching staff that’s on the sidelines. There’s a whole different coaching staff that’s up above in the press box, watching the game. Why is the offensive coordinator up above, watching from there, rather than on the sidelines?
Dave: Because he can see things we can’t see from above.
Bob: I think there’s a perspective that we have on life, and parenting, and what our grandkids are going through, that mom and dad, on the sidelines, are maybe blind to. To your point, you have a perspective on life that’s different than your kids’ perspective. You can say, “I’ve seen this happen before, and it’s going to be okay.”
Mary: —“okay”; yes.
I know one of my daughter-in-laws used to say she would hate to ask us to watch the kids so much or something. I’d say: “Oh, please, please! Ask us to watch the kids!” I mean, grandparents are delighted to watch the kids.
Before I had grandkids, I remember I used to get just a tiny bit irritated when people would tell me they couldn’t do things, even at the last minute, because all of a sudden, they’re watching their grandkids for something. But then, when I became a grandparent, it all made sense; I was like that.
Ann: Let’s talk about having long-distance relationships with our grandkids. I think that’s super hard. We’ve got some grandkids—four—that live out of state. It’s hard to maneuver. When they were little, it was FaceTime® was this anticipation and excitement for them. Now, there getting a little older, and I’m having this sense of insecurity; because they’re doing other things. Talk to us about that. What does that look like, and how have you pursued that?
Mary: You have several grandchildren; right now, the oldest one is five—something like that? There’s a whole chapter in here about long-distance grandparenting. There are all sorts of things you can do.
One of the things that I’ve done with the grandkids is we actually had a set time for FaceTime; it was an appointment. It wouldn’t matter who asked me to do what; during that time, I was going to FaceTime those grandkids. We had so much fun together. They were really long, long times because, when I did it then, I would read stories to the kids.
Ann: —when they were little?
Mary: And even when they were older. Then they would read to me. With the iPhone, you can flip it, so they can read. I would get kids’ magazines and show them things. They would look for the hidden pictures, and all of those. We would just play games—you can just do all of it.
Ann: You can do all of this on the phone?
Mary: —on the phone. You can still have that relationship. Also, you can be pen pals; you can write letters when they’re older, and they can write to you back. You can send them little packages. You might ask them, if they find a little treasure, if they’d send it to you, or call you and tell you about it. You can still do a whole lot of things, even though they’re long distance.
Ann: And didn’t you write your grandkids a letter on their birthdays?
Mary: Yes; I write the grandkids a letter and put pictures all around the side of what happened that year. We’d talk about some things that happened during that year and then have a Bible verse. I actually got that idea from Florence Littauer; I heard her speak. She has a book; I think it’s Blue Plate Special, where she talked about writing birthday letters. I thought, “That’s a great idea!” I’ve been doing it forever. It’s really neat when you remember every year—some of them have ones I skipped, or for whatever reason, I didn’t get their year—but then they have a chronicle of their life with all those birthday letters.
Bob: You said your FaceTime with the grandkids would be long—like 30 minutes?—longer?
Mary: Well, the FaceTime with the grandkids is usually longer—
Mary: —because we’d talk—it would be hours with the ones that were real long. I mean, it was like a morning or something; it would probably be about two-and-a-half or three hours.
Bob: And how/how old are the—
Dave: I’m guessing their parents went out on a date. [Laughter]
Mary: I think it did give mom a little break; I don’t think she minded it. There were several kids, so we’d take turns—one at a time: “It’s So-and-so’s turn now,” and then, it’s the next one’s turn. The younger they are, the harder it is—like if they’re a year-and-a-half, or two—their attention span’s not very long. But it worked out great.
Bob: A five- or a six-year-old would stay connected with you and be happy to be on the phone with Nanna for 45 minutes?
Mary: Well, or maybe 30; but we’d do FaceTime, though, and we’re reading. I’m reading books. I’m actually walking into where—I call it the library—but we have kid books. I say, “Okay, what book do you want me to read today?” Then they’d say, “I want you to read that book.” I’d pull it out.
The only reason we got the iPhone® when we did—it was because of the kids—because they wanted to FaceTime. We got an iPhone, because they wanted to walk around and show us stuff where they were. Now, we can walk around and show them stuff. They know it, because they’ve been in the house; and they’ve been to those places. You can have a great relationship with long-distance grandkids.
Ann: I like the idea of a slotted time/an appointment with them, because then the kids are anticipating; and you’re not pulling them away from their activities. I’m pretty inspired about this two-hour to three-hour [time]. [Laughter]
Mary: It’s not going to always work like that; it depends on the season of life for that family. For that particular time of life, it worked out well for maybe two or three years, where we did that. Where we are now, it’s a little bit different situation; so it’s not going to be that long and not that often.
But for the long distance one, we’re writing letters now; so we write a lot of letters. You just do whatever has to be done.
Ann: We have a granddaughter that would easily talk for two hours.
Dave: Oh, yes; she’s the best! [Laughter]
Mary: Just have her pick out some stuff. Play a game; you know, with all the technology, you can play games together. You can do all sorts of things long distance.
Ann: Really good idea.
Dave: Now how often do you go see them when they’re thousands of miles away?
Mary: The ones that are so far away—we saw them twice last year. You just do what you can do!
Bob: When you see them, when you’re able to be person to person with them, the fact that you’ve had these regular FaceTime meets—your relationship is already there. They don’t warm up to you; they come running to the car.
Mary: Yes; it’s a close relationship. The ones that are here, you get to see in person. So you can have a close relationship with your grandkids, whether they live near you or whether they live thousands of miles away.
Bob: Yes; you’re not only intentional about building a strong relationship, but you want to be involved in passing on a legacy of spiritual vitality. What are you doing intentionally to plant spiritual truth in the lives of your grandkids?
Mary: We pray for each grandkid every day; we really believe in that. I know I’ve told you this in the past, Bob, but I have these books—While They Were Sleeping—each one has their own little book. I take turns; every day, I do four of them. I read through the Bible Scriptures and all that; I write little notes to them and date it. I’ve done that for years, and they rotate. They’ve got all these years, dates, and prayers I’ve said for them.
I want them to know that. The kids know it, because I’ve had them write a little note in each book—to date it. Some of them were like two, or four, or seven; so they wrote. I remember one of them was about four or five and said, “This is very special to me.” In the front of the book, I have a few little pictures of them.
I do think a lot about when I’m gone. I want them to know that they had grandparents, who loved them and prayed for them. I know I write in my Bible when things happen, probably for the last 25 years—20/25 years—dates and what happened or problems and how God answered it. Someday, someone will probably look at that and say, “Huh, you know, God does answer prayers.”
Ann: You said you have more than one Bible that you’ve written in.
Mary: Yes, because I kind of go through Bibles. I write in all my Bibles; but as far as dating those things, there are two Bibles. They’re like my really, really personal Bibles; because if I lose it—I don’t want that lost—it’s in those; because I filled up one with all the blank pages, and I had to go to another one.
Ann: I can just imagine, years and years ahead of time, of seeing one of your grandkids with your Bible, with all that Scripture underlined, and your notes. What a gift that will be for them.
Bob: I have at home a more-than-100-year-old Bible from somebody I’ve never met—from an ancestor/ somebody—he was an elder at the church in Buffalo, New York, where my dad grew up. That Bible is an heirloom that will be passed on. There’s a letter in the front that—not written to me; not written to descendants—but it’s a personal letter that he wrote. It’s a pretty significant family treasure to have something like that.
Ann: —a legacy.
Mary: Yes; that’s wonderful, Bob.
Bob: Here I am; I’m now on my iPad with my Bible more than I am in an actual printed book. You lose something when it’s all on an iPad, don’t you?
Dave: Yes; I wonder if there’s a way to write notes on an iPad Bible?
Bob: I think you can; but then, is that the same thing when your grandchild gets your iPad?
Dave: Yes; handwriting.
Bob: Yes; right.
Dave: All I know, Mary—is listening to you today is inspiring; because I think, as a parent, you’re intentional. You think, “Man, I’ve got to pass my faith on.” It’s easy as a grandparent to get lazy; it’s almost like, “It’s the parents’ job; I did my job with them.”
But you are inspiring to say, “No, I want to be actively involved.” I think every grandparent listening is inspired to say: “What am I doing? I need to step in and have as great of an impact on my grandchildren as their own parents are having. My job isn’t done; I’m actually very needed and essential in my grandchildren’s lives.”
Bob: What you’ve put together in this book gives us, not just the motivation, but you give us creative ideas and suggestions for how we can be more effective/more intentional as grandparents.
We want to make your book available to our listeners this week. If they’d like to get a copy of Mary Larmoyeux’s book, One-of-a-Kind Grandparent Connection, you can contact us, here, at FamilyLife®. We are sending this out to anyone who can help support the ministry with a donation this week. Go online at FamilyLifeToday.com to donate, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY.
If you’re thinking, “Well, I’m not a grandparent”; get a copy of this book and maybe go through it and highlight some things. Then, send it to your parents and say, “Here are some ideas/ways you could get more actively involved in your grandkids’ lives.” Again, the book is called One-of-a-Kind Grandparent Connection. It’s our gift to you when you donate to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. Donate, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY.
Let me just say: “Thank you for your donations. Thank you for supporting the mission of FamilyLife: to effectively develop godly marriages and families, who change the world one home at a time.” We are grateful for those of you who embrace that vision and want to see us reach more people, more often, with God’s blueprint/God’s design for marriage and family. Thanks for partnering with us. We look forward to hearing from you and look forward to sending you a copy of Mary Larmoyeux’s book.
I also want to let you know about an opportunity you may have to have dinner with Dave and Ann Wilson and sit in on a FamilyLife Today recording session. We’ve got something going on right now; we’re trying to help couples strengthen the foundation of their marriage with an online resource called “Taking Your Marriage from Good to Great.”
There are a couple of video courses that we’re unlocking and making available to you. One of them is Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn talking about “Lightbulb Moments in Your Marriage,” when you begin to understand your differences, as male and female, and start communicating more effectively and understanding one another more effectively. Another is a video course from the Art of Marriage® about resolving conflict. Then there are messages we’re making available from Paul David Tripp, Voddie Baucham, Gary Chapman, and Juli Slattery. There are a number of downloadable resources in this kit as well.
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We’d love to help you strengthen your marriage, and we’d love to see one of you joining us here at FamilyLife for an upcoming FamilyLife Today recording session and for dinner with Dave and Ann. Again, find out more when you go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to talk more about strategies for being a more effective grandparent—how you can connect, relationally and spiritually, with your grandkids. What do you do if your own children are putting up some borders and boundaries around that? I hope you can join us for our conversation tomorrow.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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