I’m thrilled to be a grandpa and have been thinking a lot about what it means. A couple of years ago Jan and I went to a conference in Dallas called the Legacy Grandparenting Summit sponsored by The Legacy Coalition. Both the title of the conference and the sponsor make it clear their emphasis is upon the legacy grandparents can pass on to their grandchildren.
As important as the idea of legacy is, I was most impacted by the slogan Grandparenting is a Verb. I interpreted the slogan as suggesting there is a difference between having grandchildren and being a grandparent. To me being a grandparent suggests appropriate involvement with one’s grandchild or children.
I realize not all grandparents live close to their grandchildren, but I know you can be an involved grandparent even if you live far away. Before FaceTime became such a valuable tool of interacting with grandchildren, and before Jan and I moved, we communicated with our grandson by Skype.
Living close is a wonderful plus, but it doesn’t automatically ensure that having grandchildren means grandparents are engaged with them. There are lots of ways to be engaged with grandchildren; both the parents and the grandparents can work together to make it happen.
Three obvious observations I want to underscore are no two grandparents grandparent in exactly the same way, there aren’t any perfect grandparents, and being a grandparent is not the same as being the parent. As author Tim Challies notes, “Parenting falls primarily to mom and dad, not grandma and grandpa. Grandparents need to be willing to allow parents to be parents.”
Yet most grandparents worry about their grandchildren like they did their own children; we just can’t seem to help it. When a grandchild hurts, grandparents hurt as well – both physically and emotionally. I think it comes with being a grandparent.
Grandparents can have a tremendous positive impact and influence on their grandchildren; and that is what most of us desire. Our impact and influence, of course, starts with the example we set. And one of the most important things we can do in setting an example is to acknowledge when we are wrong and apologize.
One of the opportunities we have as Christian grandparents in terms of influence is having a godly and spiritual impact on our grandchildren. Pastor and writer Bob Russell offers the challenge that “Every grandparent should find ways to be a spiritual blessing to their grandchildren.” Beyond the example we set, perhaps as important as any spiritual blessing is our prayers for and with our grandchildren.
I don’t fully understand what it means, but I like the affirmation of Proverbs 17:6, “Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged” (NIV). Having grandchildren and being a grandparent is a wonderful blessing and privilege. The encouragement of Tim Challies’ words challenges me and I hope they do you as well, “Don’t just be a grandparent — be a distinctly Christian grandparent.”
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Here is the link to the article by Bob Russell cited in this post:
https://www.bobrussell.org › ten-ways-to-bless-your-grandchildren
For Tim Challies articles search for Tim Challies on grandparents