When I first considered this question and its all-encompassing answers, I thought do my answers make a difference. I would spell out the standard (and good) answers, such as being the number 2 influence in grandchildren’s lives, caregivers, an endless source of love, servant/leaders of the family, a firm foundation during troubling times, passing on a legacy of faith…
But then I thought I should go to the real experts regarding the importance of grandparents. The one’s who know grandparents significance firsthand. For who knows how important grandparents are, on an authentic, practical level, more than the grandKIDS?
So I composed a little, very unscientific survey questionnaire designed for elementary-aged children. We did not specify whether grandparents had frequent access to the grandchildren, so answers do not reflect this. Craig Wilson, children’s pastor at LifeBridge Christian Church, Longmont, CO., enthusiastically shared this questionnaire with the kids from 2nd grade through 5th grade. We received some very revealing responses. I was surprised that only a few of the answers were what we might expect that their grandparents spoil them in some way. What follows are highlights of some of the questions and some of the replies, along with my thoughts regarding the importance of our role as grandparents.
What do you like to do with your grandparents?
“Make cookies.” “Watch TV, sleep over at their house.” “Go shopping, go out to eat and spend the night.” “Go to the movies, play games, go to the park.” “I like to talk with them.” “Play board games and go get coffee.” “Play.” “Take bike rides.” “She (grandmother) is very fun.” “Swim in their pool.” “Go on walks.”
Surprisingly, very few responses would fall into the “spoiling” category. But nearly every response indicated a relationship building activity. “I like to talk with them.”
In what ways do your grandparents make you feel special?
“They are nice to me and love me.” “They spend time with me.” “They do nice things for me.” “They always tell me how great I am.” “They are nice to me and love me.” “They tell me (I’m special) every day.” “They baby me.” “They love me and take care of me.” “She (grandmother) spoils me.” “When I make a right or wrong decision.” “Give me lots of stuff.” “Other people may not have them” (they are exclusively theirs).
Very few responses would indicate typical expectations – spoiling, give me stuff, and baby me. Most responses mention thoughts regarding the love they feel from their grandparents. Again, the children are speaking of the strength of the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. One apparently is talking about unconditional love – “When I make a right or wrong decision.”
How do you feel when you are with your grandparents?
As with several of the questions, the children may have given more than one response. 2/3 said “Happy”; “I feel comfortable when they are around me.” 1/3 said “Special.” Several stated that they feel loved. Other responses were “Great.” “Safe.” “Joyful.”
They like being around their grandparents.
All the above responses make it abundantly clear that we as grandparents need to be purposefully building positive relationships with our grandkids. They want and need us. To live our lives solely for ourselves is causing both our grandkids and us to miss out on a tremendous opportunity for profound joys, and for making an impact on the newest generation. One child added her comments twice in tall letters across the questionnaire – “I LOVE THEM SOOOO MUCH!”
The following answers help us get a handle on the spiritual influence we have with our grandchildren.
Do your grandparents pray for you?
About half of the children said they know their grandparents pray for them. “They pray for me every day.” Just under ½ stated that they aren’t sure, or that they “think so.” Not a single child said “No.”
Do you pray for your grandparents?
Nearly all responded with a “Yes.” “I pray for them every day.” Only one responded that they never pray for their grandparents.
Do you pray WITH your grandparents?
Sadly, 100% said “No.”
Not a single child surveyed stated that they pray with their grandparents.
Have you ever read the Bible with your grandparents, or they read it to you?
Half of the responses were “No.” “No, they had read it to me when I was little.” Just under half said, “Yes.” “When we are sometimes sad, we read the Bible together.” “A few times.”
Far more read the Bible with their grandparents or had their grandparents read it to them than had prayed with their grandparents.
Have you ever gone to church with your grandparents? Again, we did not specify whether grandparents had frequent access to the grandchildren, so answers do not reflect this.
Over half of responses were “Yes.” “I go church with my grandparents every week.” “Yes, lots of times.” Just under half said, “No.” (One with a sad face).
There was no specification on how frequently, so it could be as little as one time. Two children did indicate frequent church attendance with grandparents.
It seems very clear that we grandparents can do a better job of influencing the spiritual growth of our grandchildren. As the number 2 influencers of our grandchildren, let’s take up a Psalm 78:4-7 mandate.
Why are your grandparents important to you?
Some of the responses are worth mentioning in their entirety. “Because I love them.” “They are part of my family.” “They help take care of me.” “They give me a hand in my life.” “They are like second parents.” “They get me into old-fashioned games.” “They let me do most of the things I want to do, and they also let me enjoy myself.” “They spoil me and play with me.” “They take care of me.” “I love them.” “They love me.” “Because they teach me all sorts of stuff.”
Relationships between grandparents and grandchildren once again surface, as the main ingredient our grandchildren think is important to them regarding their grandparents. Even the child who said, “they spoil me” also said, “they play with me” – a relationship building time
Some concluding thoughts
What can we do about allowing the Lord to use us in this meaningful relationship, which He has established for His purposes, to be disciples for our grandchildren? How can we improve with reading the Bible and praying WITH our grandchildren? Even if long distances separate us, can we use technology to accomplish these and so many other positive influences to impact our grandchildren with the love and message of Jesus? The Lord’s calling on our lives to be faith legacy torchbearers to the generations that follow us is a clear and excellent opportunity, and a great responsibility. With God, we can do this!
This is why Christian Grandparenting Network has designated the National Grandparents Day in the U.S. as Grandparents’ Day of Prayer on September 10, 2017.
Please check out the http://www.grandparenetsdayofprayer.com