The grandparent/grandchild relationship is a special one (and it should be)! It’s sweet and wonderful and like-nothing-we’ve-ever-known-before, but we must take care not to mishandle God’s design for it.
“Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, 2 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. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:1-9).
Did you see it? In verse two of this very familiar “grandparent” passage? Those words, “you and your son and your son’s son?” God’s command is multi-generational. We are to make disciples of our children AND our grandchildren. But we can’t do this if we are giving all our time and attention to our grandchildren while ignoring our children.
So, if we’ve been guilty, where do we begin?
- Be available. Sit down with your adult children and let them know they are a priority in your life. Tell them face-to-face that you are available for them. Then follow through. Often the request will be related to a need – run the children to practice, baby-sit, help when a car or appliance breaks down. Whatever it is, invite the interruption and go, help, listen.
- Be askable. First, set the stage. Invite your adult children to ask for help. Welcome their calls. You want to be one of the first people your child contacts when they have a question or a need. Secondly, when your adult child does ASK, be sure to listen. You are their consultant not their commander. Offer advice only when asked—without judgment.
- Ask. Asking shows that you care. Develop the art of asking great questions – not as an interrogator but as one who is truly interested. And ask, regularly, how you can pray for your adult children.
- Initiate. Phone, Skype, or message your adult child, regularly – no strings attached, no hidden agenda. Simply talk. If your adult child is not able to engage in a lengthy conversation, don’t despair, be thankful for what they can give. And refrain from keeping score on who is initiating the calls and messages.
- Walk with your adult children. Learn how to walk alongside their daily lives. Show interest. Be there.
Our work with our children is never done. It simply changes, and it goes hand-in-hand with our work with our grandchildren.
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