Proactive Grandparenting

For more years than I care to admit, I let my occasions for grandparenting "just happen." (I think I was waiting around too long to be included, and didn't realize I could reach out more myself. I wasn't being proactive enough.)

As a result, I didn't get to spend as much time with my sweet granddaughters as I wanted, and even when I did have time with them, everything was more about amusements like going to Sea World than creating opportunities to leave a godly legacy.

I determined to change that a couple of years ago. First there was "Camp Grammy." I spent time having fun with the girls ~ building a tent, making microwave S'mores, and the expected "camp crafts" ~ but there were other elements that were more future-focused.

We talked about what kind of women they want to be. We talked about how they wanted to change the world. We prayed for their future husbands "somewhere in the world."

I had the first "Camp Grammy" with my two oldest granddaughters, and more recently, with the youngest two. It's become a bit of a tradition.

Then, this past Christmas, I gave my 11-year-old granddaughter Megan a special book (or rather, I told her that I ordered it for her). With the book came the promise of "Eight Dates with Grammy." Dates will include things like going to a production of "Oklahoma" and making ceramics at a local shop ... fun things to do together.

But we're also going through Elizabeth George's book, A Girl After God's Own Heart: A Tween Adventure with Jesus. We'll talk about family, friends, her room, and especially personal things like her heart and her walk with God. I'm serious about Psalm 145:4: "One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts."

I think that Megan is enjoying her "God and Grammy Time," and my other granddaughters had a blast at their last Camp Grammy, but what has occurred to me over and over again is that this sort of thing doesn't "just happen." I have to be proactive. I have to ask their moms to find time in the girls' busy schedules. I have to clear my own schedule so I can focus on the girls. I have to shop for favorite foods and craft supplies.

I know that some grandparents have their grandchildren for far more hours than I do. I really don't have much control over that.

But what I can do is be proactive and intentional about making sure I have some input into my "kiddles'" lives when I do have time with them. Like all the family members, I want these girls to grow up to be strong, purpose-filled, truth-loving women.

And I may not grandparent like anyone else, but that's OK, too. I'm being myself, and I'm doing the best I can. Grandchildren don't need carbon copy relatives. They need variety and more than one godly source of wisdom.

I am glad to share my grandchildren with two other sets of grandparents. They are pouring precious time and energy into these three little girls that I dearly love. And this is important ~ there is no competition. I have unique contributions, but they are offering things that I simply cannot. Everything counts!

So the other grandparents (and other relatives like aunts and uncles) are a blessing not only to the girls, but also to me, because I cannot be there for them all the time. I'm thankful they live nearby. I'm grateful for their input. God has a good design for our family, just as I'm sure He does for yours.

My husband and I are finding fresh new ways that we can relate to the girls, enjoying their unique personalities and asking God to help us "be there" for the girls.

I'm thinking about grandparents because I saw a photo of my last living grandparent recently. Grandma Dorothy Parks died last December, on her birthday. Her mind was blurry the last time I saw her. I'm not sure how much she understood, but it felt good to hold her hand in mine and look into her eyes... and remember. I have fond memories of her, Grandpa Parks, and Grandpa and Grandma Webb.

My grandparents couldn't be more different. One set was more intellectually spiritual, and they taught me to stand for what I believe and that I could be strong in many circumstances. The other set was more practical in their spiritual perspective, and I observed many practical life skills that I wanted to learn. The blessing was that I knew I was accepted and loved by both sets. And they all prayed for me.

While my own sons have not experienced much time with my parents ~ circumstances prevented it and I've often grieved over the loss ~ I'm thankful to God that my husbands' parents (the fun-loving, wise Bestas) filled that role for the boys, and they continue to pour into their great-grand-children's lives. They are leaving an "inheritance" to all of us that goes far beyond financial wealth (Proverbs 13:22a).

One of my sons once told me that their example helps him remember to always work on his own marriage. He wants to have a long, strong marriage like the Bestas.

When our grandparents pass on, we suddenly become aware that we have "moved up" in the legacy line, and we have a great responsibility as well as the privilege to make sure our loved ones know about their past, even as we encourage them for the future.

I've included a lot of photos here. Photos remind us of our heritage, don't they? They remind me that someday, my husband and I will be sitting there in the Bestas' spot, and I pray that I will be as strong an influence for good as they have been.

If you are a grandparent, let me encourage you to set aside any negatives in your relationships, and to get on with positive, powerful, proactive grandparenting in the best ways you know. Bear "fruit" in your old age for God (Psalm 92:14-15).Your grandchildren need you ... more than you can imagine.


Kay Swatkowski said...
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Kay Swatkowski said...

Lovely post! Being proactive is a great perspective on the issue of grandparenting. I loved the picture of your granny.

Dawn Wilson said...

Thanks, Kay. It was good to think about my grandparents... all a blessing. May we grandparents all "bear fruit" in the days to come.