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Intersection of Life and Faith

Build Great Relationships with Your Grandchildren

  • Whitney Hopler Live It Editor
  • 2001 6 Sep
Build Great Relationships with Your Grandchildren
For generations, grandparents have made positive contributions to their grandchildren's lives. But with modern parents busier than ever and grandchildren dealing with a more complex society than their predecessors encountered, grandparents now have even more opportunities to contribute to their grandchildren's lives.
Here are some ways you can build great relationships with your grandchildren:

  • Thank God for blessing you with grandchildren, and regularly ask Him to show you specific ways that you can bless them and their parents.
  • Schedule regular times to spend with each of your grandchildren individually, doing activities that they choose and talking about topics that are important to them. This will demonstrate a genuine interest in who they are, and is more effective than trying to interest them in what interests you.
  • Pray regularly for each of your grandchildren.
  • Prepare your house for grandchildren's visits by buying equipment such as a stroller and a high chair for a young child, and a generous supply of toys and books appropriate for your grandchildren's ages. Also, go through your house to make sure that it's safe for children. For example, place cleaning products and other poisonous chemicals out of their reach.
  • Put the unique talents God has given you to use serving your grandchildren and other children to whom you might become a surrogate grandparent. If you're handy with mechanical tasks, for example, you might help fix a child's bike or swing set. Or, if you're a gifted artist, you might paint a portrait of each child to give as gifts.
  • Share stories about your family's history with your grandchildren when they express an interest, or when you can naturally relate the stories to your grandchildren's own current experiences. Record stories in writing or on video or audio tape, and store them in a safe place that will be easily accessible to your grandchildren's parents after you have passed away.
  • Care for your grandchildren whenever possible, both to enjoy time with them and to help out their parents (such as by giving them date nights). Decide how much time to devote to child care on the basis of your life's circumstances, as well as those of your grandchildren's parents. Never feel guilty if you're not up to providing as much child care as your grandchildren's parents would like; just give as much time as you believe God is leading you to give. If you're in need of extra income and provide care on a regular basis, it's fine to work out an agreeable plan for financial compensation, within the context of loving service rather than business.
  • If you live a long distance away from your grandchildren, write them often, especially via e-mail, which is easy to learn how to use.
  • Ask your grandchildren's advice. There are many opportunities to ask for advice. Perhaps your teen-age grandson could help you figure out something about your car; perhaps your young granddaughter could tell you which type of wallpaper she thinks would look best in your bedroom.
  • When buying gifts for your grandchildren, take the time to research what they would truly enjoy, and why. When possible, give gifts that you can enjoy with them - such as tickets to a show you can see together. Or buy something that they can add to an ongoing collection they're building.
  • Refrain from offering unsolicited advice or advice on sensitive topics when talking with your grandchildren's parents. When you're invited to offer advice, make sure it's constructive and communicated in a loving way. Pray regularly for your grandchildren's parents.
  • When grandchildren visit your home, enforce your house rules. Insist that they respect the boundaries you set for what is and isn't considered appropriate behavior.
  • Encourage your grandchildren to be take risks and be creative. Support them as they pursue their dreams.

      Adapted from The Gift of Grandparenting: Building Meaningful Relationships With Your Grandchildren, copyright 2001 by Eric Wiggin. A Focus on the Family Book from Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Ill., www.tyndale.com, 1-800-323-9400.

      Eric Wiggin, who has 11 grandchildren, is a conference speaker and author of numerous books, articles and short stories.

      If you have grandchildren, how have they blessed you? If not, how have your grandparents blessed you throughout your life so far? Visit Live It's forum to respond and read what others have to say.