By Lori Hatcher, Crosswalk.com
To the psalmist, grandparenthood is one of God’s great blessings. In Psalm 128, a Song of Ascent sung by travelers walking the dusty roads to Jerusalem, the psalmist lists the blessings God often bestows on those who love God: the ability to enjoy the fruit of our labor, a joy-filled home, and many children.
With a flourish, he tops his ice cream sundae of blessings with the proverbial cherry: “May you live to see your children’s children.”
Author Bryna Nelson Paston writes, “Truth be told, being a grandma is as close as we ever get to perfection. The ultimate warm sticky bun with plump raisins and nuts. Clouds nine, ten, and eleven.”
If you have grandchildren, you know what I’m talking about. Today, let’s consider 10 top privileges of grandparenting.
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1. Unconditional Love
The river of unconditional love between children and their grandparents flows freely and in both directions. I remember driving up to my grandchildren’s house one day to see them jumping up and down and cheering at my arrival. My son-in-law smiled and shook his head.
“What do you do to make them love you so much?”
“When you become a grandparent,” I replied, “you’ll know.” Grandchildren love you whether you’re a Fortune 500 executive or a Walmart greeter. They look at your heart, not your face, and decide you’re beautiful. They don’t care if you hold a PhD or a high school diploma. They just love you.
We feel the same way about them, and they know it. In one of the best quotes on grandparenting, Marcy DeMaree said, “Grandma always made you feel she had been waiting to see just you all day, and now the day was complete.”
2. Permission to Spoil Them
Rudolph Giuliani said, “What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.”
While we shouldn’t completely disregard our children’s wishes, everyone knows part of the magic of going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house is that the rules are a little different.
Treats flow freely. Bedtime is fluid. Minor offenses are overlooked.
Even if your children's wishes are that the rules stay pretty similar to how they do at home, there is never a limit on the amount of love you can shower on your grandkids. Likely, as a grandparent, you have more emotional maturity, time, and resources than you may have at a different time of life.
And how wonderful it is the let our grandkids reap those benefits, expontentially!
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3. An Enhanced Relationship with Your Adult Children
Being part of a fan club brings people together. While my adult children and I still disagree about some things, we always agree that my grandchildren are amazing.
Although etiquette limits proud parents in how many pictures of their kids they can post on social media, there are no limits what you can share with grandparents. You recorded a 50-minute video of our grandchild stacking blocks? Send it on!
My granddaughter’s senior photoshoot contains 100 pictures? Can’t wait to see them!
Our mutual admiration society gives us much to talk about, brings us together for activities, and knits our hearts together.
4. Undivided Time
One of my greatest frustrations as a parent was the struggle to be “all there.” To get everything done, I had to divide my time, attention, and energy between tasks and children.
I’d quiz my daughter on her spelling words while I cooked dinner. I’d fold laundry while I listened to her describe her day. We’d memorize Bible verses as we drove to swim team and read books while I nursed her baby sister.
Now that I’m a grandparent, I have the freedom to set aside almost everything when my grandchildren visit. The dishes can wait. We’re reading books. I’ll do the laundry tomorrow. Baking cookies is more fun. Who needs to do yard work? We’re relaxing in the hammock.
Because I’m not parenting them 24/7, I can listen to my grandchildren tell me about their joys, fears, and problems without having to multitask.
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5. Wisdom and Perspective
I’m so much wiser than I was 30 years ago. Things that unraveled me as a young parent no longer stress me out.
I know babies won’t die if they cry for a bit. I know that children must take risks to gain confidence. That a parent doesn’t have to be perfect to be successful.
I’ve learned that most of what we fear never happens, spanking is sometimes necessary, and the best way to earn our kids’ respect is to be consistent and kind. Grandparenting through the twin lenses of wisdom and perspective is one of the best privileges of this stage of life.
6. The Chance to Pass on History and Truth
Children love stories, and we are the keepers of our family’s history. With a captive audience, we can share tales about the ancestor who immigrated to America during World War I, the first family member to graduate from college, and the branches of our family tree. We can share silly stories about their parents’ childhood, character building tales of failure and success, and faith-building stories that point them to God.
At our house we tell make-believe stories about unicorns and dragons and real-life stories about missionaries and miracles. We share our testimonies, too, and snippets from our faith journey.
Most dramatic and glorious, however, are our retellings of Bible stories. In an entertainment industry saturated with superheroes, we want to portray heroes of the faith as the most glorious superheroes of them all.
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7. A Chance for a Do-Over
Time and wisdom help us see the mistakes we made during our parenting years.
Perhaps we were strict and overbearing. Maybe we weren’t good spiritual examples, lost our temper a lot, or worked too much.
When I look back at my parenting years, I wish I’d prayed more and worried less, spent less time talking and more time listening, and laughed more often.
Grandparenting gives us a chance at a do-over. While we can’t go back and undo the choices we made, we can allow our changed perspective to shape the way we interact with our grandchildren.
Recognizing that there are more important things than a super-clean house or a well-manicured yard gives me permission to play more and work less when my grandchildren are around.
This also opens the door to admitting past parenting mistakes and healing relationships with adult children, and even passing onto them your perspective (if they want to hear it!)
8. The Opportunity to Share What You Know and Love
There’s nothing quite so satisfying as sharing a hobby or passion with a child. Whether it’s baking, hunting, crafts, or reading, sharing a favorite activity knits your hearts together and cements your relationship.
My grandmother passed on her love of gardening, baking, and reading. We spent hours transplanting seedlings, mixing dough for Portuguese pastries, and sharing favorite books.
Two generations later, her love for growing things has filtered through me into my daughter and grandchildren. I grow houseplants, and they plant a garden every year to harvest their own herbs.
It's a beautiful thing to see your legacy shared and passed on.
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9. Passing Our Faith Along to the Next Generation
Many of us have walked with the Lord most of our lives and have decades of faith stories to pass along to our grandchildren. Not only can we share how we came to faith in Christ, but we can also tell them how God answered our prayers, provided for our needs, and rescued us from impossible situations.
My grands love to hear my husband and me tell how God provided money for us to go to college, gave us a computer when ours died, and sent a trucker to rescue us from the side of the road when our car broke down.
Children need to hear that faith is real and relevant. Our lives provide the perfect backdrop for contemporary faith stories that connect an abstract God to real people. What a privilege to share our faith with the next generation.
10. Praying for Our Grandchildren
One of the greatest privileges and one the greatest responsibilities Christian grandparents have is the honor of praying for future generations. When I was pregnant with my children, we began praying for their health, growth, and safety. We prayed God would save them early in life, keep them pure, and provide godly spouses. Now we pray the same things for our grandchildren.
Each morning we ask God to protect them physically, spiritually, and emotionally. We ask Him to call them to Himself at a young age and grow their faith. We ask God to make them mighty men and women of God. As they’ve grow older, they’ve begun to share their own prayer requests with us.
We pray with them and follow up to see how God answered.
In Exodus 20:6, God promises to show “love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” As Christian grandparents, we can pray for God to continue the legacy of faith He began in us and extend it for a thousand generations, raising up mighty men and women within our family.
When my friends went on and on about the joy of grandparenting, I thought to myself, It can’t be that great. Now that I have four grandchildren, I know better. Grandparenting comes with all the privileges I mentioned here and a hundred more. For these, we can thank God, the giver of all good gifts.
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