Job 12:12 ESV Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.
Job 32:7 NLT I thought, ‘Those who are older should speak, for wisdom comes with age.’
Proverbs 16:31 NLT Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.
Titus 2:1-6 NLT As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching. Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience. Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely.
One of the greatest joys about becoming an "OG" is that you become a grandparent. I may not be the best Grandpa but I am the proud Grandpa of 10 grandchildren and one great grandchild. Most of my friends are grandparents so I am sharing 10 tips to being a biblical grandparent compiled by Lori Hatcher, another great grandparent (I did some minor editing. Click the link to read the original article on Crosswalk,com). Lori is a blogger, inspirational speaker, and author of the Christian Small Publisher’s 2016 Book of the Year, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women.
1. Be alert for natural teaching opportunities.
The most-effective learning opportunities happen organically, as we move through our days. Rather than sharing formally awkward, scripted lessons, watch for teachable moments to impart values and life skills. You can share a lot of wisdom simply by doing life together.
It's great to pray for your grandchildren but it better to pray with your grandchildren about any and everything, even those little things. Things that you consider "little things" may be enormous to your grandchildren.
2. Model the Christian life and be ready for their questions.
Children are naturally curious, and they try to make sense of the world around them. As they watch you pray before meals, read your Bible, and be kind to others, they may ask why. Be ready with good, biblical answers. If they don’t ask, introduce the topic with a question. “Do you know why Grandpa reads his Bible every morning? Because that’s how God talks to me. And he tells me all kinds of cool stuff.”
Through our actions and activities, we model how to put others first, show compassion to the sick and needy, see God in His creation, live peacefully, be courageous, generous, and content, and love unconditionally. As we do, we connect the dots between the faith we embrace and the way we live.
3. Don't take yourself too seriously.
Grandparenting gives us permission to be silly. Even the most dignified grandparent casts off restraint in the presence of his grandchildren. We’re finally old enough to be comfortable in our own skins. The cool factor is long gone, so it doesn’t matter what someone else is thinking. All we care about is making our grandchildren smile. We instigate silly songs, horsey rides, and bedtime stories, complete with different voices for each character.
We make snowmen pancakes, devise elaborate games of pretend, and host fancy tea parties. The more they laugh, the happier we are
Proverbs 17:22 NLT A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.
4. Tell lots of stories.
People of all ages enjoy stories, but children love them most. In many cultures, storytelling remains the primary way of communicating history, morality, and entertainment. Research has shown that humans aren’t hard-wired to understand logic and remember facts for very long, but we understand and remember stories.
Grandparents can use storytelling to share moral lessons (aka Aesop’s Fables), family history (stories about your ancestors, your upbringing, or their parents’ childhood), and spiritual truth (Bible stories). Whether we’re telling or reading stories, choosing them deliberately allows us to leverage a powerful and enjoyable tool for sharing what’s most important.
5. Expect messes.
This has been one of the hardest aspects of grandparenting for me. I like my house to be neat and clean. When the grandkids arrive, however, I relax my standards because kids, by nature, are messy. While they learn to self-feed, food’s going to fall on the floor. Until they’re old enough to pick up after themselves, they’re going to leave a debris field in their wake. Although we can (and should) teach them to clean up, we’ll be doing most of it until they grow old enough to help.
When I feel overwhelmed and frustrated by messes, it helps me to remember that people are more important than things. I want to be a good steward of my possessions, but I don’t want to elevate them above my family. I can mop the floor, but I can’t regain a lost opportunity to build a memory or grow a relationship.
6. Give generously and invest wisely.
By the time our children have children, we often have more discretionary income. We can direct the funds in a zillion various places – retirement, travel, or hobbies, for example. One of the best places to invest is in our grandchildren. We can help fund activities that promote spiritual growth, like Christian summer camp, mission trips, or Christian dance lessons. We can sponsor homeschool curriculum, extra-curricular activities, and inter-generational family trips. Opening or contributing to a college education fund or helping a teenager buy their first car can help them begin their young adult lives debt free.
When our children were young, my mother-in-law sponsored several annual trips to the beach for us and my husband’s siblings and their families. Without her generosity, we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy those special times of fun and relaxation. Our family grew closer to each other, shared laughter, and made lifetime memories.
7. Pray daily.
Not only do we carry the holy burden of praying for our adult children, now we extend it to our grandchildren. We pray for their safety, health, and protection. We pray for success in school, good friends, and obedient dispositions. We pray for their development, growth, and salvation. More than anything else, we pray they will love Jesus, for to do otherwise would break our hearts. We know the pull of the world is stronger than ever, so we do battle for them daily on our knees.
Because grandparents are one step removed from the front lines, we often feel frightened and helpless to protect and influence our grands. Those who live far away often feel disconnected. One friend of mine who is a long-distance grandmother helps combat this by praying specifically and by name for each of her grandchildren every week
When the first grand was born, she began a journal with his name on it. In it she wrote specific prayer requests, Bible verses, and promises to claim on his behalf. Whenever he or his parents shared a need or concern, she wrote down the request, so she’d remember to pray about it. When God answers one of her prayers, she records the date and the answer.
Now that her grandchildren are older, they talk weekly via Face Time, and she updates her journal. In between talks, they call or text requests they’d like her to pray about. “Without my prayer journal commitment,” she said, “I don’t think we’d be as close as we are. I hope it continues into their teens and adult lives.”
8. As much as possible, support your kids' wishes, requests, and parenting decisions.
I reared my children in the early 90s, when breastfeeding was just starting to make a comeback. My mother-in-law came from the baby formula generation, so breastfeeding seemed very old-fashioned to her. She didn’t know anyone who had nursed their babies, and she worried that her granddaughter wouldn’t get enough milk.
Although she shared her concerns with me, she also listened respectfully (albeit skeptically) to my reasoning. She didn’t harangue or criticize me. Later, when she saw her granddaughter thriving on breast milk alone, she became a believer.
Of course, if we see our kids making decisions that could harm or endanger our grandkids, we have a responsibility to speak up. But before we do, we should pray, seek the wisdom of God’s Word and godly counsel, and then share our concerns respectfully.
Most points of disagreement usually relate to style, preference, and philosophy. Ultimately, the responsibility for these choices rests on the parents’ (not the grandparents’) shoulders. Even if you don’t agree, respect their right to make these choices and don’t undermine them in front of the grands. Who knows? In time, like my mother-in-law discovered, current research might just prove them right.
9. Don't be afraid to enforce your own rules on your own turf, but choose them wisely.
One friend of mine has a white carpet in her living room. To protect it, she has the rule, “No eating or drinking in the living room.” Another friend doesn’t allow her grands to watch certain television shows. “Sorry,” she says matter of factly, “Mimi doesn’t care for that type of show.” Yet another prefers no television at all. “Go pick out three books,” she’ll say when they ask to watch a show, “or choose a game from the game closet.” At our house, our grandchildren know we pray before we eat, everyone carries their plate to the sink after a meal, and we always read a Bible story before bedtime.
As we train our grandchildren to respect our rules, it’s important to share the whys behind them. “Grandma and Grandpa saved our money for two years to buy that new carpet, and we want to keep it nice.” Or “Television is fun to watch but reading and playing games are better ways to make your brain smart.”
As you enforce the house rules, however, be careful not to have too many. Constantly correcting them and enforcing standards can grow wearisome and can harm, rather than help, relationships. Don’t be a Gestapo Granny or Grandpa. If your grandchildren spend a lot of time at your house, setting basic, age-appropriate house rules will make visits more enjoyable. If they visit infrequently, you’ll want to mention only the ones that are most important to you.
Keep in mind that it’s not our primary responsibility to train our grandchildren. It is, however, our privilege to support their parents as they train them. On the flip side, if our son, daughter, or their spouse instructs the child in certain behavior, we shouldn’t undermine their attempt by saying, “Oh, it’s okay. He doesn’t have to do that at Grandma’s house.” Back them up, even if the matter in question isn’t important to you.
10. Speak specific words of encouragement and affirmation (to grands and their parents).
Every child needs unconditional love and support, and this is what grandparents do best. We cheer from the stands; whisper “You can do it,” before their piano recitals; and tell them how much we love and admire them. Although they know their grandparents are supposed to think they’re smart/funny/creative/talented, they still tend to believe us. The most powerful words we can speak – the ones they’re most likely to treasure – are specific, honest, and visionary.
Our grandchildren, however, aren’t the only ones who need to hear words of affirmation and approval. Their parents do, too. But like their children, they’re quick to spot empty praise. To be meaningful, our words should always be based on substantive truth. My mom wouldn’t say it often, but every now and then she’d say, “You’re doing a good job raising your family. I’m really proud of you.”
A weary, insecure parent desperately trying to do the right thing can exist for months on a compliment like that. Don’t be stingy with your praise.