It is always a pleasure to share my blog with someone who has a passion for passing on the faith within families. Christie Thomas is one such remarkable lady. She is an author, family faith blogger, and Director of Children’s Ministry at her church. I was thrilled when she agreed to share her wisdom with us this week. I know you’ll find her 4 Ways to Spoil Your Grandchildren insightful, easy to do, and eternally impacting.
When my three boys go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, they know they are going to have a blast. Every visit includes at least one trip down the zip line, a bonfire, and a trek to the old cabin to find the never-empty box of cookies.
Visits with Oma and Opa are much more frequent because we live in the same town, but they are no less spoiled by this set of grandparents. From special treats and toys to visits to the local indoor playground, they look forward to each one of these visits. In fact, my youngest starts chanting “Oma! Opa! Oma! Opa!” when we turn down their street.
Grandparents are great at spoiling their grandchildren. Whether they spoil with time, gifts, adventures, or snuggles, it seems to come naturally.
I’m all for spoiling grandkids. (Although maybe hold off on the cotton candy at 9 pm…)
But I would love to see grandparents ALSO spoiling their grandkids with the one thing that will never spoil: a relationship with Jesus.
In Deuteronomy 6:6-9, we hear the oft-cited edict to parents:
These commandments that I give you today are to be on 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 door frames of your houses and on your gates.
In context, this edict from God was not just for parents of small children. Because as Israelite families in multi-generational groups, this command was for ALL parents.
This may be a shocker, but if you’re a grandparent, you’re also a parent. (It takes a genius to notice this, I know.)
I often hear older adults say “I’ve done my time, let the young parents have a go at it,” but I do not think this is a Biblical attitude. There is no retirement age for building faith into the next generation!
An article from Psychology Today reminds us that as a grandparent you may get to see an aspect of your grandchild’s life that they won’t share with their parents:
Their grandkids (typically my clients) frequently found it more comfortable, and comforting, to confide in their grandma and (though not nearly as much) their grandpa than they did their mother and father.
You’ve heard of Focus on the Family, right? Jim Daly, the President, has this to say:
Outside of mom and dad, grandparents are the people most likely to lead a young boy or girl to faith in Jesus Christ.
Have I convinced you that YOU MATTER in the spiritual lives of your grandkids? I hope
I hope so because you do! So much. So on with the ideas!
4 WAYS TO SPOIL YOUR GRANDCHILDREN
1) Make your faith visible
My grandparents kept an enormous Bible in their guest bedroom, and as a child, I loved flipping through it and looking at the old lettering. It was comforting to me to know that my grandparents held to the same faith as me. They didn’t talk about their faith a lot, but I knew they believed.
It was not until after my grandpa’s passing at the age of 94 that I heard the story of how they came to faith, praying at their dinner table with the wandering evangelist while my own father peeked through the window.
We all know that when kids get to a certain age, they start dealing with issues apart from their parents. How beautiful would it be if your teenage granddaughter trusted you enough to come to you when she was afraid to talk to her parents about her doubts? Or if your grandson brought his questions to you instead of going to his friends at school for answers?
The only way this beautiful reality happens is if our families build a culture where it is normal to talk about faith, where our children and grandchildren know what we believe and that it is always an open topic for discussion.
2) Do church together
My favorite part of going to church with my grandparents was hearing my grandma sing hymns. One morning she turned to me and whispered, “this one’s my favorite.” She sang that hymn and many others with such passion. It has become one of my most vivid memories of her.
I didn’t live in the same town with my grandparents, but perhaps you do. Consider taking them to church with you sometimes, or go to their church. This is a great opportunity to talk to them about how going to church is part of your faith, part of meeting together to encourage one another, as we read in Hebrews 10:24.
If you live far away from your grandchildren, consider making church a part of any visit they make. Let them see that faith is so important to you that you’re willing to sacrifice a little “family time” to worship with your faith community.
3) Serve others together
My parents spend every second Sunday with the homeless community of our city. They do what they do best: pour hot cups of coffee for chilled hands, fill hungry bellies with sandwiches, and share pie and a listening ear with people craving to be noticed and loved.
One time, they brought two of my boys with them, which my 8-year-old remembers as something that made him “feel good inside.”
Do you bring meals to new mothers, or fix cars for single parents? Do you knit booties for babies or visit the elderly in the hospital? These are all activities, which with a little intention and planning, you could bring grandchildren into. Children love to serve others; let’s show them what that looks like!
If you live far away, this simply requires a little creative thinking! You could challenge your grandchildren to a shoebox packing contest (for Operation Christmas Child), or raise funds for a ministry you both love.
Another great option would be to sponsor a child through Compassion International and include your grandchild in the letter-writing process.
4) Pray Biblical blessings over your grandchild
When I was a teen, I would lie in bed late at night, listening to my dad pray for me from his own bed. When I heard him pray for me by name, I knew I was loved and cared for.
Likewise, praying for your grandchildren when alone is always great, but you can increase your impact by praying over your grandchild in their presence. This might sound like an impossible thing to do…except that now we have this awesome technology that lets you talk face-to-face from across the world! Even an old corded phone works just fine. 😜
If you’re ready to start praying over your grandchildren, or for fresh inspiration for your prayers, please join my 7-day blessings challenge! Each email will delve a little deeper into the how and why of Biblical blessings, will include a simple blessing to pray over your grandchild, and will include a printable poster you can hang over your grandchild’s bed when they come to visit.
For some more great resources on spiritual grandparenting, check out Mark Holmen’s article here: http://www.careleader.org/helping-grandparents-leverage/ and his short book, entitled Faith @ Home Grandparents. And of course, be sure to subscribe to Susan’s page for all her fab ideas on leaving a legacy of faith.
Now, go and spoil your grandkids!
Christie is the mom of 3 boys and wife of a man who teaches teachers. She is the Director of Children’s Ministry at her church in Canada, a family faith blogger, and author. Her Christian picture book series for young children will be launching with Harvest House Publishers in 2019.