15 Ways Grandparents Can Invest in the Next Generation

Because here’s the thing:

Our generation (and several before it) has completely lost sight of the big picture. That our job here on earth is to keep serving, keep discipling, keep working for the glory of God, though it looks different in every season, until He calls us home to rest.

I’ve seen two unhealthy extremes in grandparenting:

One is the necessity (or feeling of obligation) to raise their grandchildren, enabling parents to abdicate their responsibilities. The opposite extreme is to check out, having “put in their time” and hardly be present in the lives of their grandchildren. Both are harmful.

But in balance, grandparents have the potential for exceedingly amazing things in the lives of those around them, especially their children and grandchildren. While our flesh yearns for retirement at the beach, perhaps there is a different rest, a powerful rest that impacts lives forever.

See, we’ve gotten so earthly minded. But when we’re heavenly minded, we begin to have a generational vision that lives beyond ourselves. And this is where things get really exciting.

With  generational vision, for one, you get a “do over.” I’m already experiencing the heaviness of parental regret, thinking in the night about all the things I wish I had done differently when my children were very small (though some of them still are.) This happens when we chill out with age. Sometimes I wish we could have a “practice parent run” before the real thing.

But maybe that’s one of the great benefits of grandparents: experience that comes with age which lets you impart life to your progeny from a gentler place.

A grandparent can pour into their grandchildren from a place of wisdom, experience and patience. And with age comes a greater reality of Heaven, and so burns a passion that can be transferred to our grandchildren about heavenly things. Follow me?

And on a more practical level, there are so many skills, so much knowledge and experience that a grandparent can extend to the next generation, growing them, and immortalizing himself as a secondary benefit.

If you are a grandparent, perhaps you need some ideas for pouring into your grandchildren. Remember, each person is different. Some may suffer with health limitations and so not be able to do what another may do. Give what you have.

Practical ideas for you to do with your grandchildren:

  • Tell your stories. Children love stories and they will treasure hearing about your life. Stories bind us together and keep memories alive.
  • Write them letters. Ask them questions and seek to know them. Children often express far more of what they’re thinking in writing. Additionally, I can think of few things more treasured than letters from a grandparent, especially after they’re gone. You may buy a journal and exchange notes that way, so they don’t get lost.
  • Look for authentic ways to talk about your faith. A transferrable faith is a real faith. Do you garden? There are so many great spiritual lessons there. As you walk, as you live life, there are many opportunities to plant the seeds of the gospel in the lives of our children and grandchildren. Don’t underestimate your impact on their souls.
  • Teach them what you are good at. Do you sew? Do you fix cars? Do you love to read? Do you love photography? Painting? Are you an encourager? Do you love to bake? To dance? Whatever it is, bring your grandchildren alongside of you and pass on your gifts to them.
  • Read to them. Invaluable.
  • Start a scrapbook, letting them take pictures of and documenting things you do together. Can you imagine how much of a treasure that would be when they are grown?
  • Take them on walks. In an age of technology overload, do your grandchildren a favor by getting them outside. Perhaps you could go to a park or on a trail hike, or to a river or lake.
  • Listen to them. From a very young age, children have things to say and we would be better for listening and so would they. Sometimes, just a change of scenery helps them express more of their heart. Go sit under a tree and just be still, and hear what they have to say.
  • Invite them over for a tea party.
  • Invite them to help you serve someone. Write letters to a sick friend or neighbor, bake cookies, or just go visit.
  • Ask them for help. Whether you’re planting the garden or cooking supper, letting a grandchild learn beside you is a great way to teach them practical skills and grow your relationship.
  • Reinforce their parents. A grandparent can act as a buffer between parents and children during conflict, helping their grandchildren see, from experience, that their parents have their best interest in mind.
  • Take them on field trips. And remember to learn alongside them. Modeling a love of learning is one of the most valuable things you can do for your grandchildren.
  • Help them memorize Scripture and teach them hymns. (Here’s our Scripture CD to help with that.)
  • Give them jobs to help them earn money, then talk to them about the importance of money  management.

Hopefully, in the “instant world” that we live in, we can remember to think long-term and do the important things.

What are your ideas about how grandparents can encourage and invest in the next generation?

12 Responses to “15 Ways Grandparents Can Invest in the Next Generation”

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is a great post. My husband and I were just talking about grandparents today. What would you advise for a family that has one set of grandparents nearby and another set in a different state? The grandparent’s who live far away don’t really attempt to connect with our children (they don’t call, send letters or cards and haven’t seen them for over 3 years) however they are very involved in their other grandchildren’s lives! It’s a very difficult situation and I feel so sad for our kids. Any advice would be great!

    • Nicole says:

      Anonymous,
      I don’t know if this would help you, however…
      Instead of focusing on what your kids are missing out on receiving, focus on what they could GIVE to an older person who your family could adopt as a “Grandparent”. Ask your pastor to recommend a lonely widow who would love weekly visits, frequent a nursing home to listen to stories, or serve the older neighbor who doesn’t take care of their yard. After all, the body of Christ really becomes our sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, grandparents, uncles and aunts!
      We have been rejected by family too, and I know that can hurt. But know that God will provide every need for your children, (and you) even if that is older Godly sources outside of biological family.
      I know I have needed an older Godly woman with many homeschooled kids to serve as a mentor to me…and many many years ago God provided that through Kelly…online…even though she doesn’t know me. I needed Godly guidance, and I get that here through God’s provision. I may not get that from my mom, or grandma, or anyone local, but God still met my need.
      Teach your kids to serve with the heart of Christ, suffer without entitlement, and love God passionately and He will provide the rest! Lots of love to you dear sister!

      • Kelly Crawford says:

        Nicole,

        You have offered some excellent advice here! I agree. We have a neighbor who has recently had to place her husband in a nursing home, and it has been such a blessing to our family (and hopefully to her) to do things with her to try and relieve some of her loneliness.

        And I am so grateful for your words about the encouragement this blog is to you. Praise God.

  2. Deborah says:

    So blessed by grandparents far and near. Near ones took kids to plays and boating, and worked with them on big jobs like remodeling. Distant grands were a destination as our kids got older and earned money for airline tickets. What. A blessing for young people to go someplace where they have lots of cousins and a built in community outside their home town!

  3. I am teaching my granddaughter to have a “home” for everything and to put everything back in its “home” when she is finished with it. It will be a lot easier to be neat and tidy if you are trained this way as a child!

  4. Shelly says:

    I wish I could send this to both my mother and my in-laws, but neither would read it. My mom was always so very close to my kids. In fact, she only lives about two blocks away. She recently retired at the age of 81, so my kids assumed they’d be seeing her all the time now, but, instead she sees them less. Her brother has been keeping her busy with all sorts of activities, so every time my kids ask to see her she is either busy or too tired. It seems the only time she asks for them to come over now is when she needs them to do something. Don’t get me wrong. She’s still an awesome grandma, but the kids are disappointed. As for my in-laws, they live about ten minutes away and only see my kids at Christmas time. They have cookouts at their house all the time but never invite us because they claim their house is too small for our big family. I see other women who are with their grandkids all the time, doing things with them, and I really wish my kids had that.

  5. Kelly says:

    I wish more grandparents had this kind of thinking! I’ve already made notes in a journal to my future-self about some specific things I want to invest and/or do for my future grandchildren and even my daughters-in-law (I have 6 young sons!). We have a set of grandparents that believe it is their right to spoil our children and will undermine us in the process, if that’s what it takes. They are not saved, so we chalk it up to “lost people act lost” and move on. Thankfully they don’t live nearby.

    By the way, am I the only one who immediately skimmed this entire post for an “announcement” when I saw the title (and the pic of Bria)? : )

  6. Hans Gygax says:

    There definitely are two extremes, and yes, both are harmful:

    1) The grandparents who want to “spoil” their grandchildren and give them everything they want. It is done for selfish reasons; they essentially (even though they act like it is a joke) are trying to get the children to think that Grandma/Grandpa is nice and gives me everything I want, and Mom/Dad are mean and don’t let me do/have things. This is total wickedness.

    2) Grandparents not being involved at all. And many times this is the parents’ fault. Grandparents should be heavily involved with their grandchildren.

    The big problem though, is that when parents see that their own parents (the grandparents) are behaving according to point #1 above, they are pretty much obligated/forced to remove the influence of the grandparents.

    I know with my own situation, my mom tried to undermine our authority with deceptive and wicked tactics. I addressed the situation with her, and she refused to repent. So we had to cut her off for several years. Now she has improved and we have reintroduced her into their lives again. I think with the coming generations, we will be able to do a much better job in this area, especially among those of us who home school.

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