How We Grandparent
Grandparenting brings both privilege and responsibility. Though Scripture uses the word “grandmother” only once, namely, for Lois, the grandmother of Timothy (2 Tim. 1:5), God does tell us in His Word what He expects from grandparents. Their lives can bless generations to come.
1. We grandparent already before becoming grandparents
The way we raise our children affects our grandchildren more than anything else we may do. Initially, parents may not look beyond their own children, but God does. The Old Testament is filled with references to “generations to come,” “the third and fourth generation,” and “children’s children.” God works through the generations and instructs parents to raise their children in the fear of His name (Ps. 78:1-8).
2. We grandparent by praising God for grandchildren and praying for them
As prospective grandparents, my wife and I felt a deep sense of wonder regarding the continuity of our family and the presence of the Lord in our lives. We rejoiced that God was crowning the marriages of our children with the gift of children of their own, and grandchildren to us. A deep awareness of the responsibilities of both parents and grandparents and the potential pitfalls drove us to prayer.
It is said of Philip Henry, father of Matthew Henry:
“He had, in eight years’ time, twenty-four grandchildren; some by each of his children; concerning whom he would often bless God, that they were ... sealed ones of the God of heaven, and enrolled among His lambs. On the birth of his second grandchild, at a troublesome time as to public affairs, he thus writes, ‘I have now seen my children’s children; let me also see peace upon Israel; and then I will say, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart.’ Some were much affected with it, when he baptized two of his grand children together at Chester, publicly, and preached on Genesis 33:5: They are the children which God hath given thy servant” (J. B. Williams, The Lives of Philip and Matthew Henry, 205)
3. We grandparent by being examples of the fear of God in our lives
My wife and I distinctly remember our own grandparents witnessing their faith through prayer, reading, and singing of psalms, and encouraging and teaching us in turn. Paul speaks in such a way of Timothy’s grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice, referring to their “unfeigned faith” (faith without a hint of falsehood). A hypocrite has a basic disconnect between his mouth and his heart, and children are often best at sensing, even if not articulating this. Lois and Eunice taught Timothy the Scriptures, despite the fact that Timothy’s own father remained a Gentile. Knowing the real significance of the Holy Scriptures for your own heart and life, you will wish your children and grandchildren to come under the same Word of God. None of us can open hearts. The Holy Spirit can bring them to the Teacher, who is able to make them wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:15).
4. We grandparent by building relationship with our grandchildren
We need to get to know each grandchild and relate to them at their own level. The Bible commands parents to teach their children “along life’s way” (Deut. 6:7). We need to gain the trust of each grandchild. Young children enjoy telling and showing us their discoveries, and we can tell them of our own discoveries in the light of God’s Word and faithfulness. May the Lord grant that these things may stay with them until they are grandparents themselves and, with His blessing, may be passed along by them to their own grandchildren.
5. We grandparent by reinforcing the long-rage vision of the Scriptures for our children
There is a wonderful scene in the Bible of Jacob blessing his grandchildren, Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen. 47:9-22).
Notice how lovingly Joseph sought the blessing of a godly grandparent over his own children. Jacob expressed this blessing in ways that no doubt left a mark on Ephraim and Manasseh and down through their lines of descent.
Grandparents have traversed more hills and valleys of life than parents, and their experience of the Lord’s faithfulness can help encourage, challenge, and motivate a longer-range vision.
May the Lord overcome our grandparenting shortcomings and give us grace to grandparent faithfully and fruitfully.