by Dale Reeves
Yesterday I brought our oldest grandson, Luke, to our church’s preschool for the first time. I stood in line with other parents and grandparents as I checked Luke into the two-year-old “Ladybugs” and then watched him get on the train that his age group gets to ride to their classroom. I love that I get to take him to the church building every week now. My wife gets the privilege of babysitting Luke and his younger brother Liam Wednesday through Friday of each week while our daughter heads off to teach high school math. On certain days, we get to see our other grandson, Miles, who just turned one and who lives with his parents on the other side of the river. Some days at our house we move from laughter to tears and back to laughter in a nanosecond; from crawling to waddling to toddling to leaping; from speaking indiscernible utterances to full sentences that blow our minds; from sitting in a time-out chair to cuddling and reading post-nap books. By Friday evening I know my wife (and our schnauzer Daisy) are exhausted. But, boy, are we blessed!
I have been known to tell parents of teenagers and young adults (during that time period when parents know absolutely nothing), “The reason you put up with your ingrates now is because if you are fortunate, someday they will give you grandkids.” So, if you are in that stage of life right now, my advice to you is to hang on. Someday the grandkids will be all worth it. And when they arrive, your kids will wonder what has happened to you and why you have gone soft and are a pushover now. And, they will be absolutely right.
A Day of Honor
This coming Sunday is National Grandparents Day. It was initiated by West Virginian Marian Lucille Herndon McQuade, who had fifteen children, forty-three grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild. She was a little busy. In 1971, Mrs. McQuade was elected vice-chair of the West Virginia Committee on Aging and appointed as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging. Because of her tireless efforts through the years, in 1979 President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the first Sunday after Labor Day each year as National Grandparents Day. September was chosen to signify the “autumn” years of life.
There are three primary purposes for celebrating this day each year:
- To honor grandparents.
- To give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children.
- To help children become aware of the strength, wisdom, and guidance older people can offer them.
The Job of Grandparents
Before many of our church activities shut down this past March, my wife and I were part of a beta test group led by our church’s minister of pastoral care, David Lautzenheiser. This group enjoyed receiving some great teaching based on a seminar entitled, Grandparenting Matters. If you are a grandparent, I would highly encourage you to sign up for this class that David is currently offering at our church. You can sign up here.
Among the many good things we learned in this seminar, one of the best takeaways I caught was this: Our job as grandparents is threefold: To spoil them, to pray for them, and to leave a legacy worth following. In my observation, I think that most grandparents know how to spoil their grandkids; that one comes pretty easily. But some folks stop there. They don’t spend as much time praying for their grandkids as they do spoiling them. And, many folks don’t give as much time reflecting on the fact that they can actually leave a godly legacy worth following.
Do As I Say, Not As I Do
A few weeks ago, I was giving my wife a break from watching the grandsons when I came home from the church office in the afternoon. I buckled up Luke and Liam in the double stroller and we made our way down to the retention pond at the beginning of our subdivision, with bread in hand, ready to feed the ducks and fish we would find there. As we drew nearer to our destination, we hit a bump in the sidewalk and the stroller jumped up a bit, and Luke, who is almost three years old, exclaimed, “Pop Pop, what the heck was that?” I chuckled a bit and asked him what he said, and he repeated those words. Then when his mom came after school to pick up the boys, and I told her this story, she said, “Dad, that phrase came from you. You say that all the time!”
Hmmmmm, I thought. Glad I said, “Heck,” and not something else! Little eyes are constantly watching and little ears are constantly listening to what we say and do. I knew this as a dad many years ago, but it was brought to my attention again—now as a grandparent. What a privilege, and what a responsibility.
King David said, “But the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children of those who are faithful to his covenant, of those who obey his commandments!” (Psalm 103:17, 18, NLT).
I enjoyed reading a devotional plan on the Bible App that was written by Stuart Briscoe called, “Grandparenting the Next Generation.” Stuart says this:
“Influence—positive or negative; benevolent or malevolent—passes from one generation to another. And grandparents have a significant role to play and a moral responsibility to ensure that their role is being played right.”
He goes on to say that grandparents can be a source of stability to grandchildren who are being shaken by difficulties and a source of comfort to them, especially when grandchildren sense their parents’ distress—unsettled and fearful. Grandparents can be great soothers of bruised and bleeding knees and broken hearts. They can also be a huge source of encouragement for burgeoning talent, as they pass on positive words of experience. And, they can be a powerhouse of prayer for young people who may lack the desire or the discipline to pray for themselves.
What a Privilege!
Moses instructed the children of Israel with these directives: “Watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them” (Deuteronomy 4:9, NIV).
The psalmist proclaims, “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts” (Psalm 145:3, 4, NIV).
May all of us who are fortunate enough to carry the title of grandparent take serious this call to commend and tell and teach about God’s goodness and love to the ears who are listening around us. What an enormous and sacred privilege grandparenting is. May God help us as we try to impart godly wisdom and values, and demonstrate biblical joy in the lives of the next generation God has entrusted to our care.