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5 Reasons to Share Vulnerable Stories with Your Grandchildren

  • Linda Gilden Contributing Writer
  • Published Feb 16, 2022
5 Reasons to Share Vulnerable Stories with Your Grandchildren

Most grandparents would love their grandchildren to go through life with no obstacles or big bumps in the road. If we are being truthful, we are aware that is an idealistic outlook. God tells us in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Isn’t that encouraging? We have the overcomer within us and He is always available to us. What greater news could we impart to our children and grandchildren as we nurture them into believing adults. Sharing our stories of going through trials in life encourages them and points them to the importance of having God in our lives.

Why should we open up and be vulnerable with our grandkids? Would they become fearful of their unknown future? Not at all. Understanding the ups and downs of life will give them confidence in following the example of their grandparents.

1. To Help Them Understand Life Is Not Linear

Being vulnerable with grandchildren helps them understand that life is not linear. It is filled with ups and downs. For young children put your experience in the form of a story. You can even be the heroes in the story. Share your real feelings with your grandchildren and the difficulties you had overcoming obstacles in your life.

When our grandchildren are born, what they see are grandparents who seem to have been married forever and whose lives go smoothly. That may not be the case but they have no way of knowing what grandparents have endured to arrive at the seemingly fun and peaceful season they are at now.

Discuss with the grandchildren the season of life you are in now. However, don’t hesitate to share those bumps in the road that were a struggle in your lives.

What was your one-bedroom apartment like where you first lived when you got married? Could it really have been the same size as your grandchild’s bedroom today? Show them pictures if you have them. Tell them what it was like to reach from one side of the kitchen with your arms stretched out? Have them stretch out their arms and show them how much they will have to grow before they are the size of your first kitchen!

It would be so helpful for your grandkids to know that there were ups and downs to get you where you were--but that God was with you the whole time.

2. To Help Them Appreciate Their Ancestors’ Endurance

Tell them about a hard time their ancestors endured. The farther back the better. Share with them how they survived and any innovation they came up with to do so.

For instance, if their ancestors were homesteaders, tell them about the difficulty it took to get your family to where it is today. When the cry came, “Go west, young men, go west,” many did. That was not as easy a trip as it is today. Families had to invest in a wagon, four to six horses, and all the work tools they would need. They packed the wagons with all their belongings and the families often walked beside the wagon because of lack of space inside the wagon. In order for the wagons to make it from the midwest to the west it would usually take around five months to arrive.

Help your grandchildren imagine how life on the western pilgrimage would have been.

Or, if your family are the descendants of immigrants, tell your grandkids about the tough journey. If your family are the descendants of slaves, tell your grandkids about the incredible trials their ancestors faced, and how brave they were to get through it.

You may want to research your heritage. To help them understand how different things were, show your grandchildren a dollar bill and tell them that if they had one of those in 1860, it would be worth $31 today.

Make your grandchildren proud of their heritage.

3. To Share Pasts Struggles, Like the Pandemic They're Experiencing

Perhaps someone in your community or neighborhood recently endured a hardship. Many grandchildren of today can identify with this as they have watched their friends and neighbors suffer during the pandemic.

Many friends have lost parents, grandchildren have lost grandparents, and friends have lost friends. Ten, or even five years ago, no one could even perceive of living in such a dire situation, let alone it lasting over a year. Families have quarantined, lost jobs, gone to virtual school, and not seen friends in weeks or even months.

Ask your grandchildren to talk about the thing that was the most difficult about the pandemic. If they are interested, tell them about the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. There have been other flu outbreaks in the twentieth century. More than 50 million people died during that time.

Share your observations of the situation and if there is an issue at stake, discuss both sides of the issue. What choices could make it easier for families? Give them each a turn to assess the situation and say what they might have done in the same situation. 

4. To Learn Life Lessons from Family Hardships

Hard stories are full of life lessons. If we try to sugar-coat every family story we tell our grandchildren, they don’t have the chance to grow. Hearing the hard times that others have overcome gives grandchildren a basis for being strong when they find themselves in the hard times.

Papa Ray fought in World War II. He was proud of his service to his country. One day he was leading his men toward the Rhine River when a shell exploded in front of him. He had multiple injuries, one of which was a missing leg. The shell had completely severed his right leg.

After months in the hospital Papa Ray was finally flown home to the States. His fiancée was waiting on him and they married soon after he returned home. The happy couple went on to have a wonderful life together with their two children. 

As time went on, Papa Ray’s war stories became favorites of their children and their friends, and later their grandchildren. Papa Ray always told funny stories and refused to let the absence of a leg rob him of a happy life. Refusing disability, Papa Ray taught his son the value of working hard in life.

Talk to your grandchildren about what your version of Papa Ray’s story, what limitations they could have had and how they could have affected their life. Ask them if they think they would be as courageous, smart, or tough as the heroes of your stories were.

5. There Is Always Hope

No matter what story you share with your grandchildren, make sure that that your hope for the future shows through. You may have the opportunity to show how the hero or heroine in your story put their trust in God during the hardships they endured. Or you can show how trusting God would have made their hardships easier to endure.

As believers, we know that the world we live in is dark and filled with stress. But we also know that we have hope in Jesus. When you finish story time, make sure you tell your grandchildren about your faith and the hope that it gives you every day. If you can share a specific situation, that is good. If not, share with them how your quiet time each day give you peace and hope.

One of the best ways to share your faith with your grandchildren is to live authentically, without fear of opening up to them or being real with the struggles you are facing. When you can be open and vulnerable, you will have modeled your trust in God during the hardest days and the resulting joy of knowing Him.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Maryna Andriichenko

Linda Gilden is an award-winning writer, speaker, editor, certified writing and speaking coach, and personality consultant. Her passion is helping others discover the joy of writing and learn to use their writing to make a difference. Linda recently released Articles, Articles, Articles! and is the author of over a thousand magazine articles and 19 books including the new Quick Guides for Personalities. She loves every opportunity to share her testimony, especially through her writing. Linda’s favorite activity (other than eating folded potato chips) is floating in a pool with a good book surrounded by splashing grandchildren—a great source of writing material!