Godly Grandparenting: Ways to Inspire Faith in Your Grandkids
- Thursday, February 14, 2008
Deal with divorce. If your children go through a divorce, do all you can to help your grandchildren. Find an outlet for your pain and support from others so you don’t add to your children’s and grandchildren’s pain, don’t torture yourself with regrets and guilt, ask God to give you an objective perspective on the situation so you don’t take sides (especially around your grandchildren), let your grandchildren know that they can trust you to listen without criticizing them as they process their emotions, assure them that your love for them will never change – despite the change in their circumstances, pray for them and ask your friends to pray for them as well, protect your legal rights of access to them, let them know that the divorce wasn’t their fault and that you won’t abandon them, answer their questions, always speak positively about both of their parents, and remain a calm presence in the midst of their turmoil.
Respond wisely if your grandchildren come to live with you. If your grandchildren ever join your household for any reason (such as when their parents are going through a temporary crisis, or if they can’t care for them permanently), trust God to help you every step of the way. Deal honestly with your disappointment from having this responsibility limit your leisure and increase your stress. But don’t take your anger out on your grandchildren; remember that they’re the innocent victims of their circumstances. Don’t make them feel guilty about the sacrifices you’re making. Instead, welcome them warmly into your home. Establish reasonable standards and discipline, working with your grandchildren’s parents if they’re still involved in their lives. Be a grandparent first, before acting as a parent, and keep hope alive that their parents will come to take over their full parenting responsibilities again. Hold the parents accountable for whatever financial and time contribution they’re capable of making, and seek help from whatever assistance programs you can find from the government and charities if you need it. Ask other family members like siblings, aunts, uncles, and other grandparents to pitch in to help. Find a support group for others in your situation, and take advantage of childcare and kids’ Sunday School classes through your church.
Love stepgranchildren and adopted grandchildren. Respond to these family members with just as much love as you would give a traditional grandchild. Ask God to give you His perspective and view your stepgrandchildren and adopted grandchildren as vital parts of your family. Refuse to express disappointment or blame over the circumstances or people who brought about your family configuration. Give your new grandchildren plenty of time to figure out where you fit into their lives, and be gentle with them. Speak respectfully about the other adults in their lives. Pray for each of your grandchildren often.
Spoil your grandchildren constructively. While it’s great to want to give generously to your grandchildren, be sure to obey two basic rules when doing so. Make sure what you’re doing is: okay with their parents, and helping your grandchildren grown into better people. Consider giving gifts of time, character building, and prayer rather than just money or things. Don’t undermine your grandchildren’s ability to learn the responsibility that comes from working hard and earning their rewards. And don’t undermine their parents’ authority to teach them that important lesson.
Intervene instead of interfering. Recognize that intervention becomes interference when you push you advice on your children when they aren’t asking for it, when you criticize them in front of your grandchildren, or when you undermine their authority. Diffuse or prevent tension by distinguishing between morally absolute values mentioned in the Bible and personal values that are simply a matter of preference – and choosing not to get upset when your grandchildren’s actions or appearance don’t align with your personal values. If a family crisis requires you to intervene in your grandchildren’s lives, be sure to think and pray about how best to do so before taking action. Ask God to give you the grace you need to resolve conflicts well whenever they come up between you and your children or grandchildren. Don’t put pressure on your children or grandchildren to visit you on holidays like Christmas; give them the freedom to work out whatever schedules are best for them. If you have a grandchild with special needs, get to know his or her condition well and make sure your expectations for your grandchild are realistic.
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