The U.S. Census says that the average age of a first-time grandparent in the United States is 47. Grandparenting is not just for senior citizens. Some grandparents are more involved in helping grandchildren than others. Now we see more and more grandparents raising their own grandchildren.
There are many obstacles to grandparents having a close relationship with their grandchildren. Today, many parents move long distances to other states for job opportunities. Some grandparents believe that they have earned their retirement and are not responsible for their children’s children. Sometimes, the parent or their spouse does not want any “Christian influence” in their children’s lives. Less than 25% of grandparents share the gospel with their grandchildren.
There is confusion in America about the role of grandparents. Grandparents don’t want to “meddle” in the affairs of their children. They are hesitant to share their faith in this age of tolerance. So many grandparents think their role with grandchildren is to spoil them, fill them up with sugar and send them home.
Parents are the most influential people in children’s lives, but grandparents are second. One thing we know is that grandparents are uniquely positioned to have a great influence on the lives of their grandchildren, even more so than teachers or even the church. Grandparents are rich in experience and can support mothers and dads in practical ways. Grandma and grandpa can also be a guiding light to grandchildren of all ages to teach moral values and spiritual values. Distance may mean that grandparents may need to initiate Facetime phone calls, Skype or special trips to spend quality time and share experiences with grandkids. At our church we are teaching a series on grandparenting, and we are sharing that most of us were highly influenced by a grandparent.
What do our grandchildren actually see in our lives when they spend time with us? Is it worldly culture or Godly values? Are we going to be an encouraging, supportive, a loving friend? Is that enough?
The Bible has a great deal to say about the role of grandparents. God wants us to disciple our grandchildren and pass on our spiritual legacy to them. Deuteronomy 4:9 commands us to have Godly values, “but make them known to your sons and your grandsons.”
All this is very personal to me. My latest grandchild is a little girl that is just over a month old right now. As I look at her, I ponder her future. What will her values be? Will she know the love of God? Will she have the peace, confidence, contentment and higher purpose of Christ?
Both parents and grandparents are in an awesome, pivotal role to influence a child for the good through relational love and Christian teaching and living. We need to be sure our grandchildren receive a spiritual legacy of hope and love in Christ. That will impact every area of their life for the rest of their life and for all eternity.
Dr. Roger Holl is the pastor of Sterling Grace Community Church. On Wednesdays at 6 p.m. a series is being taught on “Equipping Grandparents.” Sunday worship is at 10:30 a.m. Both groups meet at the Sterling Senior Citizens Center. All ages are welcome.
• Dr. Roger Holl is the pastor of Sterling Grace Community Church.