When people congratulate me on how my children turned out, it actually upsets me. Comments like, “You must be a godly parent,” although nice to hear, is far from the truth. The reality is it is by the grace of God and to a lesser extent, the influence of the parents. Don’t get me wrong, to be the parents of godly children is an unspeakable blessing, only to be surpassed by having godly grandchildren. Seeing your children’s children walking faithfully is a testimony to the kindness, mercy, and faithfulness of the Lord.
As Christian parents and grandparents, we have the privilege of following the pattern Moses gave the Israelites. In Deuteronomy 6:2, we read, “That you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long…”
As grandparents, we are to do more than simply cheer for our children and grandchildren and buy them Christmas and birthday gifts (though we should certainly do those things and more). Our foremost duty is to fear the Lord and obey Him every day of our life.
Our grandchildren should remember us as faithful, God-fearing grandparents, and all our loving and giving should flow from a desire to be a source of material and spiritual blessing to our grandkids. It is natural and obvious that we should expect to have an active role in passing on our faith to them.
Timothy’s grandmother Lois clearly had a hand in passing on her faith to her grandson. Otherwise, why would Paul mention her, as well as Timothy’s mother, Eunice, in his second letter to Timothy? In 2 Timothy 1:5, we read, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”
It is quite clear that “Nana” Lois impressed Paul as a woman whose faith was the real deal. She was staunch. And though our own lives are vastly different from this first-century Jewish woman, surely we can be a spiritual asset to our own grandchildren in our own generation.
With two grandchildren of my own and one more on the way, I’ve been thinking a great deal about how I can have an impact and influence in their lives. No doubt, your household is different from mine, but I hope I can still offer you a few suggestions on how we can help our children and grandchildren grow in faith.
I can say as a father that no man or women are good enough to marry my own children. That being said, when our children did marry, as a parent, it is important to know your role. In other words, don’t get in the way of their growth as a couple and family. Remember that your children and grandchildren are ultimately in God’s hands, not your own!
Grandchildren are easy to admire. What grandparent hasn’t been immediately smitten with delight and joy over a newborn child? I think loving the grandkids is the easy part. It comes naturally and abundantly. So much so that sometimes we even have to rein it in. That’s the first thing. We can’t let our affection for our grandchildren get in the way of their spiritual growth. How can that happen?
One of the most contentious issues in any family is discipline. Sometimes as grandparents, we disagree with our children in how they handle their children when they disobey. We might fall on giving excuses for the child’s behavior or get frustrated with the parent’s “patience.” Again, this is where grandparents need to step back and allow parents to be just that… their parents.
Though we may want to be resources in the discipleship of our grandkids, we must not try to do the parents’ job for them. Grandparents are to be a help, not a hindrance and we especially need to remember not to get in the way of the parents do their job. God has called the parents to raise up their own children in the Lord, and our role as grandparents is to be a support in all their efforts. This is true even when we might disagree with how they are doing it. And the fact is, we will.
In the Old Testament, children are called to leave their father and mother and cling to their spouse. As grandparents, we need to remember that our children have done the leaving and cleaving. We have had our chance to raise them up to be faithful Christians. Now our job is to encourage them; it is no longer to teach and admonish them. If you have a good relationship with your grown children, they will welcome your input. But it’s always better if we wait until we are asked.
I’ve seen in my own culture how children have struggled with dealing with their mothers and mothers-in-law. Too often, I would say the top issues are criticism and interference by parents. An example of this might be that the parents don’t want the children to have a certain kind of toy, but the grandparents buy it for them anyway. Or the grandparents buy way too much stuff for the kids. Or the grandparents criticize the way the parents are doing their job. All this criticism and interference will only succeed in chasing your children away. You can differ with their decisions without telling them about it.
It is far more fruitful to tell God about it, and he will either show you where you are reading the situation wrong, or he will give you the patience to hold your tongue. If we take the time to remember what it was like when we first became parents, did we appreciate criticism from our parents? I doubt it!
Another thing we can do as grandparents are we need to make my homes a hospitable place for our married children and our grandchildren. We shouldn’t greet them with a list of rules, rather make we need to make our homes a place they can all enjoy and experience blessing. In the end, what is more important?
Our dining room table has many scratches and flaws. Although not a valuable piece, it has special sentimental value to my wife’s family. But it makes me smile when I think of all the happy hours around that table. Paints have been spilled on it. Felt markers have been used to decorated tablecloths. Food has covered almost every square centimeter. But in the end, it is easy to treasure all the messes as the blessings of being a part of their lives.
In closing, I would encourage everyone to pray. Pray for your grandchildren and especially pray for their parents. Take every opportunity to encourage and bless them in Christ. Your actions speak much louder than any words! May the words of Psalm 103:17 inspire you: “But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children.”