Fulfilled living in later life
Grandparenting for Faith

Tuesday 13th February 2024

Grandparenting for Faith

Louise Morse

When my grandchildren were small, they used to come to me after school, and their parents would collect them after work. We live in a grassy cul-de-sac, and they would play out there with my friend Fiona’s children, living a few doors down. They were safe on their bikes and scooters, or playing football, and they stuck to my rules, including not leaving the area. As Grandma, (official and unofficial) I went from persuading two 8 year-olds that toads will die in a capped glass jar even if you give them grass to eat, to helping a budding lawyer present her dissertation in good English, and finding a maths tutor for one who was finding it hard going. Sometimes I found grandparenting hard going, too! It wasn’t until I read Becky Sedgwick’s brilliant book, ‘Grandparenting for Faith,’ that I realised what a blessing I’d had all those years.

Becky Sedgwick is the Resources Coordinator for Parenting for Faith, part of BRF Ministry. Her onscreen bio says she was once PA to a millionaire, but clearly, she finds her current role more rewarding. In her book she describes not only how to be a safe place, but hundreds of little ways in which you can ‘grandparent for faith.’ And not just for your own grandchildren, but for dozens of others in your church fellowship. Top of the chapters’ list is the title, ‘God Invented grandparents’, echoing my theme in the book, ‘What’s Age Got To Do With It?’

The influence of his grandmother, Lois, on Timothy, the apostle Paul’s prodigy, was so clear that Paul mentioned it in a letter to him. ‘I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.’ (2 Timothy 5:1, Bible.com).

A grandparent’s influence lasts for a grandchild’s whole life, long after the grandparent has been called Home. I remember telling a 16 year old not to walk atop a 15ft wall that divided my block of flats from the back gardens of the houses in the adjoining street. He did it when he came home from school because his mother was at work and wouldn’t give him the front door key, so he went around the back and opened the back door. I told him that God had a plan for his life and it didn’t involve being splattered on a concrete yard, and he said his grandmother used to talk about God like that. She’d told him quite a lot, actually. She’d sown a seed, and who knows when it will spring to life?

The key to a good relationship is connection, and regular contact. Mike’s mother is 87, and she taught herself to use WhatsApp so she can message each of her grandchildren regularly (p35). You can be creative, popping a card or tiny gift in the post-box, or pinging off a quick email or message. It’s important that grandchildren know that you are always available for them when they need (p 37).

Children get ideas about God from all sorts of sources, and in the chapters are suggestions and ideas for helping them know who God is, and His role in their lives. You can weave this into every-day activities, such as putting things into recycling, saying that God has instructed us to take care of our world. There are helpful suggestions for describing how God communicates with us, and how He loves us to ‘chat’ with Him (p.162).

In these uncertain, fluid times, grandparents can find themselves separated from grandchildren by parents divorcing. Sometimes it calls for negotiating with parents. ‘Children are usually okay if they have a strong emotional base,’ says a parenting website, which lists things that grandparents can do to support their grandchildren.

Grandparents often help in the children’s groups in church. Sometimes listening attentively to a child helps them share things that bother them. And you can build them up by telling them how good they are at different things they do, and keeping them on your prayer list.

In his commendation, Revd Canon J. John says, ‘It’s a great guide to the wonderful if bewildering responsibilities of being a Christian grandparent. Realistic, supportive and, above all, both helpful and hopeful. ‘

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