"What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies."– Rudolph Giuliani
There's no question grandparents are one of God's greatest gifts to children. They are an invaluable source of love and encouragement. Without a doubt I am living in the fruit of my grandmother's prayers. I met Jesus when she took me to church. Despite the poor choices I made growing up, God kept me safe. My marriage is strong. My kids aren't perfect, but they all love Jesus. I believe these blessings in my life are linked to the years my grandmother spent on her knees praying for me. My heart overflows with gratefulness for her spiritual legacy, and her cookies weren't bad either!
The Importance of the Grandparent Connection
Fostering connection between grandparents and grandchildren is important for:
- Spiritual legacy: Grandparents can be one of the most important examples of faith lived out to their grandchildren. Prayers and Bible stories from the lap of grandma have great spiritual impact. As mentioned above in my personal example, my grandmother taking me to church led me to salvation.
- Encouragement: Because grandparents often have more free time and are more removed from daily childcare responsibilities, they have more emotional energy to give encouragement to children. Most grandparents rejoice in time with their grandchildren. This makes grandparents the perfect place to go to fill up love buckets with lots of hugs and words of affirmation.
- Wisdom: Grandparents are a wonderful source of advice for difficult situations or just day to day decisions. They usually have a broad experience bringing a healthy perspective on life. When your child is struggling, encourage them to reach out to grandparents.
How To Strengthen Grandparent Relationships
Here are three ways you can encourage a strong grandparent relationship in your family:
- Involve grandparents in events: Many families neglect to involve grandparents in family activities such as sports, fine arts performances, day trips, or vacations. Normal family activities provide great opportunities to create connection.
- Use technology to connect: Email, text messaging, social media, and video calling (Skype, Facetime) make connecting easier. This is especially good for grandparents who don't live close. If the grandparent doesn't know how to use any of this technology, invite your child to show them how.
- Put dates on the calendar: Life gets busy and before you know it months have gone by without connecting with a grandparent. Put dates on the calendar for your kids and their grandparents. I have found my children like one on one time best. The personal attention makes them feel special. A time investment is required for relationships to strengthen. Ask yourself, does your calendar reflect the value of creating strong grandparent bonds?
If you are lucky, your children's grandparents live close by and are willing to be actively involved in the lives of your children. For those who don't have biological grandparents around, consider finding surrogate grandparents within your church or in your neighborhood.
Grandparents are a precious gift and a wonderful part of God's design for families.