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Heroic Grandfathers Love Their Grandkids’ Parents

by Steve Stroope (Co-author of It Starts At Home)

Perhaps the greatest impact I can have on my grandchildren is to love their parents. When my own grown children and their spouses have their emotional tanks filled, have margin in their day, and are physically and spiritually replenished, it is more likely that they will have something to give to their own children. What are some ways we can ensure that is more likely to happen?

Reinforce the Rules
Unless they are completely unreasonable, discover the standards set by the parents and help the grandchildren respect them by mirroring them when they are in your care. If you feel you must make slight adjustments, seek permission in a private discussion with the parents prior to any deviation. Grandparents like to joke about “spoiling the grandkids,” but it’s no laughing matter if we are communicating to our grandchildren that it’s okay to break rules as long as no one knows. I’m still in trouble for letting Jax see parts of the PG13 version of King Kong on a road trip with PawPaw before he was 13. I’ve told them it won’t happen again.

Give Parents a Break
Parents sometimes feel guilty about wanting to get away from their precious little ones. Yet it’s important that they do so from time to time. Mom and Dad need couple time. Single parents need rest. “Stranger danger” in our current society makes it harder than ever to find sitters with whom parents feel comfortable. This provides a great opportunity for grandparents to step in.

To be sure, grandparents must communicate reasonable time boundaries so they don’t become resentful and feel used. However, much of the dynamics are changed when grandparents see these times with the grandchildren as opportunities to influence and nurture these little lives rather than just a chore to fulfill.

My wife, Marsha, is great at this. Whenever the grandkids are coming over, she plans the entire evening for all of us with activities like craft projects, reading times, walks to collect nature objects, and sometimes just-released, age-appropriate movies (no King Kong). Because she has been proactive, the time flies, we and the kids look forward to it, lessons are learned, and valuable relationships are built.

Affirm their Mom and Dad
Sometimes in our efforts to be the hero, we inadvertently rob the parents of their rightful place as the most significant adults in our grandchildren’s lives. There are times when grandparents need to choose to stay in the second chair and allow the parent to take center-stage with their own child. This is more of an art than a science, and there are very few, if any, hard and fast rules. However, the following may be examples of when, with agreed-upon exceptions, the parents should take the lead:

      • Buying the child the most-desired present for Christmas, although the grandparents could contribute behind-the-scenes to make it possible.
      • Leading a child to Christ. Grandparents should be on the team but make sure, when possible, to let the parents experience the joy of leading their child to follow Jesus.
      • First trip to the ballpark or first fishing trip.

Grandparents have a unique and wonderful opportunity to affirm their grandkids’ parents and remind their grandkids to love their parents. No parents are perfect, and you may disagree at some point with how your grandkids are being raised, but those issues should be discussed in private with their parents and not expressed to the grandkids. Even when there are difficulties in the relationship, you can find things to affirm about their parenting to their children.

Heroic Grandfather Challenge #4: Identify one tangible thing you can do this week to demonstrate love for your grandchildren’s parents. Then make it happen!

Going Further: Find more ideas at the INTENTIONAL GRANDFATHERS page.

Heroic Grandfathers Claim Teachable Moments

by Steve Stroope (Co-author of It Starts At Home)

Our third grandchild Austen is going through an interesting season related to eating habits. He currently is not a finicky eater in the traditional sense (i.e., rejecting vegetables), but rather an “all or none eater.” There are times when we cannot get him to eat anything. It seems he can sometimes go through an entire day without any additional fuel and then without any warning sit down at a meal and eat everything placed before him – even the vegetables. We’ve discovered the key to helping Austen stay healthy is feeding him when he happens to be hungry. The same principle applies to nourishing our grandkids spiritually. They consume best when they are hungry. Those teachable moments come without notice and we increase our likelihood of seizing them when we increase our face time with them. Deuteronomy 6:7 describes passing faith to our family as something we do in the context of everyday life.

I realize that many grandparents live far from their grandkids. But we also live in the day of internet, email, cell phones, texting, FaceTime and if all else fails the good-old post office. So distance need not become an insurmountable barrier. You can invest in a webcam with a Skype connection in order to foster regular times of communication. You can even read stories to them at bedtime on certain nights through the internet, on the phone or by sending a recording for them to hear you reading while they turn pages. You can also create special times together in blocks. Some of my best memories growing up were spending two weeks every summer with one set of my grandparents who lived far away.

If we are honest, we have to admit that our problem is not distance. Our problem is lack of intentionality. As children get older, they naturally tend to spend less time with both their parents and grandparents. But this tendency lessens if a relational bond has been established during their early years and if grandparents are strategic about inviting them to participate together in activities in which teens are interested.

Heroic Grandfather Challenge #3: Put in place regularly scheduled times when you get to invest in your grandchildren such as:

      • Put a weekly “touching base” call or text message reminder on your planner to prompt “spontaneous” encouragement or conversation
      • Plan once-a-month, twice-a-month, or once-a-week sleepovers
      • Host a once-a-year entire week or more with grandchildren
      • Create Grandfather/Grandchild events or dates
      • Establish birthday traditions (like breakfasts with them)
      • Help grandchildren pick out and purchase Christmas gifts for their parents
      • Observe annual celebration of their salvation
      • Establish Easter traditions
      • Create a Fall Festival celebration each year

The key is creating recurring meaningful experiences that, once they have been instituted, take place fairly automatically.

Going Further: Find more ideas at the INTENTIONAL GRANDFATHERS page.

Heroic Grandfathers Have a Clear Purpose

by Steve Stroope (Co-author of It Starts At Home)

If you had ten grandchildren, I’m convinced that each of them would be different. Isn’t it amazing how creative God is in crafting each child with their different body types, personalities, concerns, and interests? I remember being amazed how different our two girls were growing up even in the way they both handled money. As they got older, our children would receive an allowance on Saturday for chores done throughout the week. Lydia, our youngest, is a saver. I think she still has the first dollar we ever gave her. (She never minded spending my money but has managed to hang onto most of hers.) Rachael, on the other hand, could not get rid of her allowance fast enough. Wherever we were on a Saturday, when she got her allowance she would find a way to spend it. I used to kid her that if I gave her allowance to her at a gas station, she would go in and buy a quart of oil.

Each one of your grandchildren will be different. They may have some of the qualities of one parent or both, but the unique blend is all their own. It is easy for parents to project their own interests on their offspring instead of allowing them to develop their own or too quickly pigeonhole who they think they might be. But grandparents have a different perspective, giving them an opportunity to affirm each grandchild’s unique contribution to the world and help them find their unique place in it.

To this day, our grown daughters still talk about the individual attention they got when my wife or I took just them on a daddy/daughter date or a mommy/daughter day. These days, my granddaughter Maleah loves her “M and M” days with her Mimi (her pet name for my wife). In fact, when our granddaughter found out the fourth grandchild was going to be a boy, she said, “Great, I’ll have Mimi all to myself.” The trick is making each grandchild feel like they have you all to himself or herself, basking in the affirmation and guidance they uniquely experience with you.

Heroic Grandfather Challenge #2: In his excellent book titled The Blessing, Dr. John Trent explains that every child yearns to know he or she is highly valued and has a special future. In other words, they need those of us closest to them to see their unique potential and tell them we believe they will be greatly used by God. Do not underestimate the power of such words coming from a grandparent in spoken or written word. Take a moment right now to send each of your grandkids a brief message affirming his or her unique gifts and/or personality. I promise you it will have a big impact on your grandchild’s sense of identity and self-worth.

Going Further: Find more ideas and tools at the INTENTIONAL GRANDFATHERS page.

Heroic Grandfathers Have a Clear Purpose

by Steve Stroope (Co-author of It Starts At Home)

Grandparents hold a unique and exalted position when it comes to the process of spiritual formation in the next generation. Other than mom and dad, no one else carries the stature or inherent authority in the lives of children. In fact, not even mom or dad can fill the role we fill. That’s why I find it troubling that so many modern grandparents squander their opportunity thinking “I’ve finished the parenting task.” Hardly. We are not called “grandparents” because we’ve been retired from the parenting process. We are called “grand” because we’ve been promoted! That means your task is to do everything possible to help your family achieve success in their most important assignment. Regardless of what business you may be in, your “family business” includes a clear purpose.

A CLEAR PURPOSE: Those blessed with the gift of grandchildren are called to inspire and nurture the faith of the next generation as life’s greatest privilege and priority.

The scriptures command moms, dads and grandparents to give the next generation a framework for living rooted in the knowledge of and relationship with God. It is our job to support and reinforce the role of parents as they fulfill the command of Deuteronomy 6…

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home, and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (vs. 6-9)

It seems that this generation of grandparents mentally check-out or skim past this vital passage of scripture because they assume it only applies to mom and dad. When did that change? Prior generations of grandparents understood this mandate to target them as the patriarchs and matriarchs of faith in their extended families. We need to recapture that understanding today if we are going to fulfill our God-ordained role in the faith formation process.

Heroic Grandfather Challenge #1: Passivity among grandparents who abdicate their God-ordained role actually accelerates the decline of faith in the next generation. That’s why we are calling grandfathers to adopt intentional strategies that will foster strong Christian faith in the lives of their grandchildren starting with a simple prayer of commitment.

Dear God:

Thank you for giving me such an influential role in the life of NAME EACH GRANDCHILD. I dedicate myself to fulfilling that responsibility to the best of my ability. Please give me the wisdom, courage and creativity to do so with excellence in coming days.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Going Further:

Find more ideas at the INTENTIONAL GRANDFATHERS page.

Accepting the Heroic Manhood Challenge – BwayGPa

Thank you for accepting the challenge to move beyond passivity in your spiritual journey in order to become a more Christ-like man. You are one of those who will help us create a church-wide culture where heroic leadership becomes normal and expected. How? By increasing your own level of manly intentionality over the coming four weeks. If you haven’t already done so, please join the Bway Grandfather text group for our weekly Hero Challenge for Grandfathers! When you do, your name will be entered into a drawing to win a Heroic Gift Package, including a gift card to Home Depot as well as some other handy “tools” for your journey. The winner will be announced at our annual Men’s retreat September 28-29th (must be present to win!). Joining is as simple as texting the message “@BwayGPa” to 81010. You’ll receive a confirmation message back and you’ll be ready to go!

Let’s get started!  Heroic Challenge #1: Stop whatever you are doing right now to spend a few moments in prayer using the following prompts…

ASK FOR GRACE: Ask God for the grace needed to adopt the attitude of Jesus Christ who, according to the Bible, “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”

ASK FOR CLARITY: Ask God to show you the present reality. How well have you modeled self-sacrifice for those you love and lead?  Confess any struggles when it comes to loving and serving your extended family.  If you lead at work, church, or in any other arena, confess areas of weakness and invite God to give you strength to better reflect the example of Jesus Christ.

ASK FOR SUCCESS: Ask God to give you courage and creativity as you try to serve and lead those within your sphere of influence. Pray that they would be receptive to your efforts, even if you have failed in the past. 

Over the next 4 weeks we will send a new challenge each week to help engage you on your spiritual journey and encourage your growth as a Christ-like grandfather.  We hope they will help you turn the prayer you just prayed into a real-world reality with those you have been called to love, serve, and lead.

Going Further:
• Visit the TOOLS FOR MEN page to hear the free HEROIC@HOME audio podcast.