The Role of Grandparents


"I wanna go to Mamaw and Papa's house!"

"I wanna go to Nana and Grandaddy's house!"

I cannot tell you how often I hear those words come out of the mouths of my kids! We have a unique situation, our kids' grandparents each live literally ten minutes from our house. So, as you can probably imagine, they prefer to visit rather often. What is it with grandmothers and their wicked bribery of cookies and brownies? How is it that when we were growing up, cookies were rationed like the Great Depression by our parents and now they are presented by the dozen upon arrival at grandma's?  Beyond the fact that they spoil our kids with junk food and late bedtimes, we are extremely grateful to have both sets of grandparents in town.

We have done our best to foster a healthy relationship between our kids and their grandparents. My wife did not have the privilege of growing up with her grandparents nearby like I did, but it was a value we both agreed would be a priority for our family. We were both blessed to have grown up in Christian homes, and we have absolute confidence in our parents' involvement with and influence on our children. In fact, we see them as vital relationships for our children in becoming all that God wants them to become.

In today's culture of broken homes and super-mobility, there are very few children that have this vital relationship in their lives. In some cases, there are dysfunctions that require great caution in how children interact with grandparents; however, I believe that God intends grandparents to play a vital role in the development of children. There is something about importing the experience that comes with age that gives children perspective in life. I remember hearing stories about World War 2 from my grandfather and learning about sacrifice, honor and commitment. I want similar lessons passed down to my kids. I like to think our kids have a front row seat to a good, dare I say a great, marriage between my wife and me. But to think that my children get to see the durability of our parents' marriages is invaluable. I have to admit, there are things I cannot give my kids that their grandparents are equipped and eager to give.

Another dynamic that our kids experience is the generosity our parents show toward their grandkids. Whether it is with their time or with their resources, my kids experience a lavish generosity, not unlike what God gives us. I've watched my father-in-law spend an afternoon to teach my son to shoot a BB gun. I've seen my dad teaching my sons how to swing a hammer so they could "build something" in his shop. I've seen my mother-in-law create a wonderful holiday meal and take the time to let my kids "help." And I've seen my mom holding two little hands as she takes a leisurely walk around the neighborhood with my little ones (stopping to examine every frog). These are all examples of a generosity birthed by years of learning what it means to "make the most of every opportunity."  As parents of four kids, we can't help but move at the speed of light all the time, but grandparents do not. They have a way of managing life so that relationships are most important, particularly with their grandchildren.

My kids are the beneficiaries of "generational faithfulness." Not everyone has this. If you do, I want to encourage you to invest in your child's relationship with his or her grandparents. If you don't have this "generational faithfulness," seek to develop a godly legacy, starting now to pass down to your kids, and maybe in a few decades you will be the grandparents who play this vital role for your grandkids. You may also look for an older couple in your church that can serve a grandparent role where your kids have none. I have some dear friends who play this role for a child that is not their biological grandson but has become one very much in their hearts.

Did you grow up with grandparents? How were you positively impacted?

Do your kids have a grandparent nearby? Is the relationship a good one?

Post your comments here.

Posted by Andy Savage at 8:15 AM
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