Based on interviews and studies with children and grandparents, it becomes clear that children need their grandparents and vice-versa. The bond between grandparents and grandchildren is second in emotional power and influence only to the relationship between parents and children. Grandparents affect the lives of their grandchildren, for good or ill, simply because they exist. Unfortunately, a lot of grandparents ignore this fact to the emotional deprivation of the young.
One study showed that of the children studied, only five percent reported close, regular contact with at least one grandparent. The vast majority see their grandparents only infrequently, not because they live too far away, but because the grandparents have chosen to remain emotionally distant. These children appear to be hurt, angry, and very perceptive about their grandparents. One child said, “I’m just a charm on grandma’s bracelet.”
Positive roles that grandparents play include caretaker, storyteller, family historian, mentor, wizard, confidant, negotiator between child and parent, and model for the child’s own old age. When a child has a strong emotional tie to a grandparent, he enjoys a kind of immunity — he does not have to perform for grandparents the way he must for his parents, peers, and teachers. The love of grandparents comes with no behavioral strings attached. The emotional conflicts that often occur naturally between children and parents usually do not exist between grandparents and grandchildren.
Ten Insights about Grandparenting
- Grandparenting comes not from the head but from the heart.
- Children have more need of models than critics.
- Perfection is in the eyes of those who wear blinders like a doting grandparent.
- The joys of a grandparent–grandchild relationship are best seen in the security of the trust and love they bring.
- Grandparents can regard a child’s blunders merely as stepping-stones to success.
- Grandparents have the magic of putting fun back into life.
- No family member can encourage, support, and boost a child’s self-esteem like a grandparent.
- Nothing brings greater joy and helps stem the tide of negativism than entering together into a world of fantasy and wonder.
- Invest in your grandchildren. They are a renewal of life, a little bit of us going on into the future.
- A child’s first impressions of who God might be comes from the love they experience from a parent and grandparent.
If you are a grandfather, what can you do today to cultivate your relationship with your grandchildren? If you’re a parent, what can you do to involve your parents in the lives of your children?
Jim Grassi, D. Min.
We cherish any verse in Scripture that reminds us to keep focused and intentional about evangelism and discipleship. “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5