Most people can share stories of the significance their grandparents played in their lives, but we might not realize that becoming a grandparent also changes the grandparent involved. A friend was chatting with me about how life had shifted over their first years as a new grandparent. It was clear this new relationship was reframing their perspective in significant ways. Between countless pictures, videos, and stories, some themes emerged about the positive changes being a grandparent can have.
As a mentor in the life of a grandchild, my friend longed to be a good role model for their grandchild to look up to. Grandparenting offers a fresh opportunity to be a positive influence. It was on the front of mind for my friend to model being a good parent, spouse, and Christian for the eyes of this little child. Stepping into mentoring someone young inspires us to be the best version of ourselves. Seeing how those little eyes followed their every move, my friend had a renewed sense of being an example that their grandchild would follow. The apostle Paul strove to be an example that others might follow, saying, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1). Are we confident in our behavior that we want others to follow in our steps? A dear friend noted that her grandchildren played a role in her journey to sobriety. She did not want to be a bad influence or miss any more days of connection with those precious kids.
All things come to a stop when a grandchild runs into your arms. The relational investment takes priority over the other things that call for our attention. While we are all busy with work and life’s activities, a grandchild eagerly looks for your time and attention. Grandparents have a unique opportunity to encourage and invest like a parent without the the full burden of discipline and household management. Seeking out time to be together to read stories or build a tower of blocks are all valuable investments in connection. As children grow into teenagers and adults, they value the connections made with those grandparents who have loved them and spent time cheering them on. Being present in the life of a child is a valuable priority.
Grandparents may have a tendency to spoil their grandchildren. When it comes to love and attention, that's awesome. We all need people in our lives who love us abundantly and want us to flourish. But when it comes to gifts or rule-breaking, generosity should be measured. The trick may be finding boundaries that don’t give a child everything they want, setting up unrealistic expectations or interfering with boundaries that parents have set. It is said that the closest we may get to experiencing God’s unconditional love from a human is the bond between a grandparent and grandchild. Grandparenting offers a glimpse into God’s faithful presence and care that echo with God’s generous overflowing love.
A grandchild offers a unique view into the world. They see the world from down low and look up to us to teach them about things. Their ceaseless questions flow from their God-given curiosity. The gaze of young eyes invites us to delight in life’s little blessings like ants enjoying the petals on a flower. Seeing through the eyes of a child invites us to slow down and marvel at God’s good creation. Grandparents are often in a season of life where they have a bit more time to slow down and listen to engage the curiosity of the toddler mind. Becoming a grandparent is a gift showing you the world through the eyes of a child. Jesus recommended that view saying, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3).
Grandparents are in a great position to be prayer warriors in the lives of their children and grandchildren. I remember how my grandmother would gather with her sisters and they would pray together through their notecards with the names and concerns of their families. It makes perfect sense--when you want the best for your grandchild, take your concerns to our loving God who is the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). Your grandchildren are a precious gift and it is only natural to want to cover their lives with prayer. There are many situations in life that you cannot change, but you can always pray and trust our God who loves your grandkids even more than you.
May your grandparenting open your heart to not only investing in your grandchild, but also allowing the experience to transform you.
Rev. Dr. Steven Koster
Rev. Deb Koster