Sunday, March 15, 2009

Not Retired but “Re-Tyred”... for Grandparenting!

Many parents-come-grandparents are getting a new lease on life these days; not retired, but re-tyred, and fit for another one hundred thousand kilometres or so--not of the ‘grey nomad’ variety--more simply, fitted for service in the ‘proactive grandparent’ mould.

I had the distinct pleasure of being edified by the Growing Families Australia team of Bill and Joan Grosser recently. They lauded the role of the grandparent as being one of the most important life roles any person can play.

These are some of the things I recorded and have made further comment on:

How will our grandchildren remember us? Grandchildren remember their last memories of their grandparents; at least the last few years. Given that information, what legacy are we leaving? What would we like our children and grandchildren to say about us?

Do grandparents have a divine commission? Plainly, yes! Grandchildren, it is said tongue-in-cheek, are a reward for not killing or maiming our own children. Children ordinarily believe that grandparents are “the only adults with time.”

Grandparents have the window of opportunity to input into their grandchildren’s lives; the chance to leave a positive legacy for the next generation. Older people are clearly important in the lives of young people.

It is important that grandparents can share their authentic and sincere faith with their grandchildren, to transmit the wisdom messages before their journey of life ends.

Is proactive grandparenting a fine and delicate balance? Yes indeed. Genesis 2:24 (NRSV) says, “Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Parents of adult children still too often interfere in the marriages of their children.

Grandparents cannot interfere too much in the family dynamic they’re blessed to support. Likewise, they’re not to become disconnected. Getting the dichotomy right is important.

Establishing and maintaining a positive and appropriate connection as a grandparent is possibly the most important goal.

Some really important tips for proactive grandparents!

~ Don’t give your opinion unless it’s asked for. Always be prepared to actively listen and give only enough advice that would be helpful and welcomed.

~ Make your grandchildren visit and interact with you out of devotion, not duty. Be a joy in their lives.

~ Be a model and build strong relationships by being other-centred (focus on the needs of others, and not so much on your own).

~ Tell your grandchildren vivid, appropriate stories about your children (their parents) that will help them know their unique place in life, building a wonderful sense of family history. (Most grandchildren with strong relationships with their grandparents love family stories--a sort of family ‘oral tradition.’)

~ Christian grandparents are urged to make the Bible real, vibrant and relevant to their grandchildren. No ‘Bible-bashing,’ but allow discussions on character development and discipleship to permeate through the relationship.

~ Be able to say sorry whenever it’s required; don’t delay apology when it’s needed. We all get it wrong from time to time and there’s no shame in that.

~ Finally, as a proactive grandparent you can be an encourager, a family culture carrier, a listener, an example, a security presence, and an intercessor--thinking and praying your grandchildren through their childhoods and into adulthood and right through life.

Re-tyring has a totally new and fresh feel about it now, doesn’t it?

This article is dedicated to my mother and father, who are fine active examples and models of what proactive grandparenting is all about.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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