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Being a Champion to Your Grandkids

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Being a Champion to Your Grandkids

Carey Casey, CEO of the National Center for Fathering, explains how grandfathers can utilize their unique role to have a positive and lasting influence on their grandchildren in a discussion based on his new book, Championship Grandfathering: How to Build a Winning Legacy.

Today's Guests

Episode Summary

Carey Casey, CEO of the National Center for Fathering, explains how grandfathers can utilize their unique role to have a positive and lasting influence on their grandchildren in a discussion based on his new book, Championship Grandfathering: How to Build a Winning Legacy.

Episode Transcript



Mr. Carey Casey: People will know that you’re a Christian by your love. And so, I have to love my grandchildren. I have to encourage and love others that are in my sphere of influence.

Jim Daly: It’s so true.

Carey: What affects one directly affects all others indirectly around them. Love God; love your family.

End of Teaser

John Fuller: Well, that’s Carey Casey, and he has an inspiring message today about grandfathering and championship grandparenting. Our host is Focus president and author Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.

Jim: Hey John. Here’s an interesting stat for you. Ninety percent of Americans over age 65 whose children are adults have grandchildren.

John: That’s the majority of Americans.

Jim: Yeah, 90 percent. Isn’t that crazy? Because we always think, you know, our backs are up against the ropes and children, adult children aren’t having children, but they are, 90 percent. And so, I think that’s a good thing, but it also is a challenging thing. Most men who become grandfathers do that by 50. That puts us in a little bit of a bind. (Chuckling)

John: I’m still waiting. How about you? (Laughter)

Jim: Hey, I want my kids to graduate from high school first–

John: Yeah everything [in time].

Jim: –and maybe college.

John: Yeah.

Jim: But yeah, we were late bloomers in that area. But people are living longer, and children should have more opportunity to know their grandparents now because of that early age of grandparenting. You’ll probably live another 30, 40 years after grandkids arrive.

And we want to talk with our guest about Championship Grandfathering. Carey Casey has been on the program before. In fact, we did a book with him on Championship Fathering, and that was a huge impact on the lives of fathers. We’re comin’ back to you now, grandpa, and we want Carey to address this issue of intentional grandparenting and how to get your grandkids, hopefully, moving in the right direction with the Lord.

John: And Carey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, and he’s a speaker, a motivator, an author. He spoke to our staff the other day and it was just tremendous. He has, as you said, a new book with Focus on the Family, and we have Championship Grandfathering available for you at http://focusonthefamily.com/radio.


Jim: Carey, welcome back to the microphones.

Carey: Thank you. I’m so honored to be with you.

Jim: Hey, Carey, when you came last time to Focus on the Family, you had no grandchildren. You’ve had a productive couple of years here. You have four grown children, and now you have—

Jim and Cary: –nine grandchildren.

Carey: We have five granddaughters and four grandsons.

Jim: And their ages are pretty tight, right?

Carey: Yes, they’re growing up together. It’s really exciting to see how God worked it out that way. So we have nine grandchildren, nine and we have two that are 2 years of age.

Jim: Okay, so here’s the big question: What’s the difference between fathering a child and grandfathering a child—other than maybe not as many dirty diapers?

Carey: Well, one of the exciting things is that they can come over and spend the night and have fun, and then we can send them home.

Jim: Yeah, right. So are you the absolute spoiler of your grandkids?

Carey: You’re totally right, Jim. I’m the spoiler. Believe it or not, my bride’s major spiritual gift is hospitality.

Jim: Uh-oh.

Carey: And she is also a second-grade teacher, so she is very smart, very orderly. [She] can, you know, schedule things. She sends out an itinerary, believe it or not, before Christmas at least a month and a half, two months, of all the meals, what we will be doing, who’s staying in what room and all of that. And she’s just that way.

Jim: And you go out of your way, in a beautiful way, to lift your bride, Melanie up. Why is that important as a grandfather to demonstrate that to your grandkids?

Carey: Well, the heritage. Now we have to deal with the economics of life, being in the richest, most powerful country in the world, and you want to leave an inheritance for your children. My grandfather did that, whom I never met, but when it really gets down to it, we have to look at this thing called legacy, and that’s going to live longer than us. We have to be about something that’s bigger than us, that will live longer than us.

Jim: Sure.

Carey: And I saw that in my parents and that’s what I really seek to do. I can have title of CEO or Ambassador for Fathers and all of that, but when it really gets down to it, I have to model it and I have to leave that legacy, to have that testimony.

Jim: You mentioned your grandfather. How did he do that for you as a grandson? What did he do that caught your attention growing up?

Carey: Well, I never met my mother’s dad, my grandfather, who was a pastor. But one time I was preachin’ at dad … granddad’s old church. And I was in the study, preparing to go up to preach, and an old, coal-black gentleman walks in. He’s close to 90, at least or 90. “I had to come in and meet Marcellus’s grandson that’s a preacher. Your grandfather could write notes on a little piece of cardboard and put it in his pocket and preach better than most folks.” And that’s in my DNA.

John: That’s a legacy that you’ve received.

Carey: Not perfect, none of us, but that’s where I came from.

Jim: And it gives you something to aim for.

Carey: Yeah.

Jim: This is your heritage.

Carey: That’s it. Now where you are, Jim, you have cut off the curse in your family. That’s the deal. And we didn’t mention it, but granddads, dads, everybody, as dysfunctional as we are, we have to draw that line in the sand and say, “This is how I’m gonna carry myself now,” you see. And you don’t have to do it with a lot of words, although you tell the next generation, but the way you live it.

And a few months ago, half a year ago, [I] received a letter in the mail from a lawyer in Radford, Virginia. And it was stating that some property is going to be sold by my aunt, the last living aunt I have on my mother’s side. And granddad, in 1942, pastoring a church, bought a home and some property, and then the Lord took him home in 1945.

And so, the property, naturally, in grandmother’s name, and then all the children. But all of them passed. My mother and all her siblings passed, so it went to the aunt. The aunt didn’t want to take care of the property, so she sold it, so all of us grandchildren—believe it or not, I wish I didn’t have so many cousins.

Jim: At that moment.

Carey: –at that moment. But the point I’m making is, it talks about how, you know, the grandparents, the inheritance that they have received from their parents as well, but then what they would leave. And so, he made an investment. I’m an African-American gentleman. I’m so proud, because they talk about how messed up our families are, but here it was, none of us ever met granddad, but we heard how great a preacher he is, but bottom line is, he did something that’s biblical, even as we look at Psalm 78, and he did something that was biblical, naturally living it out. He made investments, even back then, before there was Larry Burkett, Howard Dayton, and all of our great people that really help us today, but it’s not rocket science; it’s in the Bible.

Jim: Right, that’s so good. When you are looking at the current generation as a granddad with nine grandchildren now, is it tougher to be a grandparent today because they’re so distracted? They’re not sittin’ there on the porch much anymore. How do you, yeah, what do you do as a grandfather in this high-tech, distracted, grandchild environment? How do you connect with them?

Carey: We must be intentional. We must focus ourselves, even when they have their phones. Don’t belittle them. Lay down all the laws, but make it so exciting and with such great depth that they want to get to know you, and that comes through asking questions, you giving them rewards and things. And I’m finding out my spirit is deeper and better now with my grandchildren than I was with my children.

Jim: Sure. In fact, you talk in Championship Grandfathering about entering your grandchildren’s world. Now most grandparents say there is no way. (Laughter) But talk about this relationship that a grandparent must have with their grandchildren. How do we bridge that gap? How does a grandparent enter the world of a teenager?

Carey: Right, well, one thing I’m finding with us, and like I always state in Championship Fathering, there are no perfect dads. So, I want the dads out there, and moms, as well, there are no perfect fathers, no perfect grandparents, if you will. But I like to say, just relax; you exhale; but then, you be very intentional, as I stated. But my father used to just let me know, “Son, you don’t get good until you’re 50, 60, and 70.”

But when it really gets down to it, I’m like, “Dad, you’re ready to die,” and he’s like, “No, son. You must experience life.” And he’s totally right. And so, I’m finding out why did I sweat that when I was 20 and 30? And now I’m 61 years of age; you relax and they will pick up on that.

John: This is “Focus on the Family.” Carey Casey is our guest today, and you can find his book, Championship Grandfathering, at http://focusonthefamily.com/radio.

Jim: Carey, a lot of grandfathers may have the goal of relaxing and playing golf and enjoying entertainment later in life. How do you become intentional as a grandfather when the grandkids come to visit?

Carey: It’s an investment, and it’s just like we go to work, we make money. That’s wonderful. But the investment in your own children—my children will be my children until I go to glory. Hopefully, I will leave before them. But there’s another part of that great investment: it’s called grandchildren. And that’s the investment in the Casey family that I must make. These are some of the greatest years that I will have to continue to build my parents’, the heritage that I received from them, and then continue in their legacy.

You look at our Christmas card; [at] Christmastime, we make Home Alone look like a joke, I mean in our home. (Laughter) But thinking about when I’m gone, it seemed like yesterday that my dad and mom were here. Dad and Coach Landry of the Cowboys–I used to work there–they passed on the same day, February 12, 2000. But here it is, they have been gone 17 years. It seems like yesterday, but I have to work with the heritage that I’ve received in that investment. And you mentioned the word model. Young people need to see it. The culture needs to see it today. No matter how dysfunctional or whacked we say this America is, we have some great, great options.

Jim: Yeah.

Carey: And that is the family and what you all have been doing for years.

Jim: Yeah.

Carey: But that grandparenting, it’s going to a whole ‘nother level for me with those nine bambinos.

Jim: You know one of the things, I didn’t have grandparents. I never knew my grandparents. But I remember the Hope family, who led my mom to the Lord, they were surrogate grandparents. I remember we’d go over there Christmastime. They didn’t live far from us, but we were taken in as part of the family and they treated us like that. They had two sons that were my oldest brother’s age. And so, but I remember some of the fondest memories going over to the Hope’s and Grandpa Hope. We even called him “Grandpa Hope.” He would sit in his chair out in his [atrium]. He loved having a kind of an atrium with a garden in it, and he had a big recliner sitting there with checkers.

Carey: Wow.

Jim: And we’d come over and we’d sit there and he would just take everybody on in checkers. including me, the little 5-year-old. You know he taught me how to play checkers. I’m sure he lost on purpose a couple of times (Laughter) just to build me up. But that’s what a grandparent does, especially a grandfather–

Carey: You’re totally right.

Jim: –because those grandkids are looking for that affirmation in all kinds of ways. But even just playing checkers, walking to the park together, maybe playing catch if you can still do that physically. It seems like a grandfather has even more impact than a dad in that way.

Carey: You have that wisdom. That’s what he had. He took something as simple as a game of checkers to literally help raise up the next generation. And that’s wisdom, and he knew that. And you said he had the recliner. He’s just chilling.

Jim: He’s chilling all day.

Carey: All day.(Laughter)

Jim: Perfect.

Carey: He’s sitting there with the beautiful plants, enjoying nature.

Jim: Yeah.

Carey: And as I’ve gotten older, there were things that I thought as I even looked at my dad’s body, it’s like I’m never gonna look like that.

Jim: Right.

Carey: I mean, but now look in the mirror, oh my goodness, I’m my dad. And so, my son, who has four wonderful children, I watch him. The more he comes over, the more he looks like me, dresses like me, and I’m supposed to be el nerdo, but he’s becoming just like me–my eldest son, Marcellus, who’s 34. But even Chance now, who’s 20, came years later, he’s listening more now.

Jim: Well, you know in that relationship, Carey, there can be some tension too with your son, your grown son and his wife, and I’m sure in Championship Grandfathering you’re touching on this, which is how to maintain a healthy relationship with your kids, your grown kids, who are raising your grandkids. But I mean everyone right now listening is gonna click these off. I’ve got tension there. They don’t like the way I discipline them when they’re with me. They’ve asked me not to do that with the grandkids. They don’t want me to buy them sugar. Here’s a classic, right? (Laughter)

Carey: They never forget that.

Jim: Right, you know, they come home and they’re going, “Grandpa bought us donuts, mom!” And what does mom do? Calls grandpa, “Grandpa, don’t buy them donuts, especially 25.” (Laughter)

Carey: Right. Don’t give them 25 of ’em, yeah.

Jim: But how do you navigate all of that?

Carey: Well, like anything [in] relationships, and I’m learning to listen to my children also, to honor them, but then too, when you’re entering into that relationship with trust. Trust takes it to a whole ‘nother level. And so, when you are able to be open and honest with your children and they can be open and honest with you, and then you can share your desires, your wishes, and this type of thing. But it should not be too far off by you raising your children, because they know you, because there are things that Marcellus does, and my children do–

Jim: That’s your son.

Carey: –yeah, my son, that they are doing now, they say, “Dad, you remember you used to take us to a hotel in the wintertime and we would play in the indoor pool?”

Jim: Right.

Carey: And so, the other day he said, “After we leave you all here at your home, we’re gonna go to a hotel.” And the kids, my grandkids, were so excited. And he’s looking at me, blinking his eye like father, like son.

Jim: The tradition continues. You touched on this. I want to get into this for a minute, the idea of fatherlessness, and by definition, grandfatherlessness in the culture. What is the impact? You’re coming from the African-American experience, although now, you know what, it’s 40 percent of kids, almost 27 million children, black, white, Latino, it doesn’t matter at this point. [There’s] higher incidence in the African-American community, but we’re all going in the same direction, and that is fatherless homes. And speak from your heart about that, ’cause you mentor so many young people, your football background, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, The National Center for Fathering, and Fathers.com—I’d like to know how you got that.

Carey: Oh, yeah, we got the domain.

Jim: That’s a good one. But how do we cope in this culture that seems to be cracking?

Carey: Well, [the] bottom line [is], when you talk about the family, what you all have done for years, as I stated earlier, that’s the crisis, the family. We can balance the budget from the White House to the outhouse, but if we don’t have strong families—and as you stated, Jim, from your background; didn’t know your grandfather, your natural grandfather and all that—but every child needs a father, grandfather, or father figure.

Jim: Right.

Carey: [He] needs to have someone that’s gonna play checkers with you, that’s gonna encourage you. The kids right next door to me, I believe I shared this before here, family with three boys, dad hasn’t been there since Brett was 2. But I’m their father figure. But now they see grandkids running into our home also, so I am modeling this. They are going to watch you. People will know that you are a Christian by your love, so I have to love my grandchildren. I have to encourage and love others that are in my sphere of influence.

Jim: So true.

Carey: And that’s the thing. We have to realize, as Dr. Martin Luther King shared years ago, what affects one directly affects all others indirectly around them. If we really want to make an investment in America and say what is it that I can do, love God, love your family—your natural children, but then your grandchildren. The folks, our listeners today that are just saying, “Hey, give me some handles.”

But I get up every morning; the greatest thing I can do is to visit with God and to pray, “Give me wisdom; give me the peace that I need.” And He says, “I will supply your needs also.” And here I am, been in non-profits all my life, our needs are met, our grandchildren think we’re the richest people in the world.

Jim: (Laughing) You know what I love is sending the boys like a Scripture verse on their phone and they’re at school. I do it at school and it dings. The first time I did it, Troy said to me, “Dad, man that’s buzzing in my class.” I said, “Well, look at it when you get out of class.” But I want them to know I’m thinking about ’em. Grandparenting, that door is wide open for a grandchild to know that Grandpa knows who I am, cares enough to send me a note, and it’s just a great thing.

Carey: Jim, let me say this real quick. What you just said just pricked my heart to no end. The reason why [is], do you know how many children would love to hear their phone buzz from their father?

Jim: Yeah.

Carey: I’m proud that you do that. There are children that would love to hear that buzz and they have affirmation. I look at John and the children that he has and yourself. They would love to have that affirmation. And one thing we do as well in our family for years is, I choose a Psalm of the week every Sunday night and I text it to Melanie and she texts it to all the children. And the grandchildren will be able to receive that as well.

Jim: That’s beautiful. Well, that’s a good thing for everyone to do. Just think of that little thing you could do that takes very little time. Carey, in your book, Championship Grandfathering, you had an excerpt of a little boy named Jordan. He’s 9, and this really begins to me to sum up our time together here. Let me read it and you can respond to it.

Carey: Please.

Jim: Jordan wrote, “Four months before I was born, my real father left my mommy. He took care of her until I was born. When I came home from the hospital, there was a cradle that grandpa made just for me. Someday my kids will sleep in the same cradle. He rocked me to sleep, and he was my first babysitter. Now I’m 9-years-old, and grandpa is my best buddy. When I was 4, my grandpa spent a whole summer building me a playhouse with a big sandbox underneath it. Now he spends all his extra time building new rooms on our house so that Mommy and I will have our own apartment. After he spent all day [mowing] our big lawn, he is really tired, but he will still hook my wagon up to the lawn mower and drive me all over the place. My grandpa isn’t my father, but I wouldn’t trade him for all the dads in the world.” Does that say it? That’s the power of a grandfather.

Carey: That’s the power of a grandfather. And even in our culture, when we talk about the father deficit and dads that are not stepping up to the plate; some of them didn’t have someone to help to model for them. We talk about in Championship Fathering, loving, coaching, modeling; that’s what a dad does. We found that through our research. But a lot of children today are being raised by their grandparents in this great country. I am so very thankful that, that grandfather stepped up. And every child needs a father, grandfather, father figure, and so there’s that grandfather that stood in the gap for that young man.

Jim: And let me point out there are a lot of grandmothers hauling the load on that, and I want to tip my hats to those grandmas.

Carey: You’re on it.

Jim: They are doin’ such a great job out there.

John: Hey Carey, a little bit ago you mentioned your prayers, your morning prayers. Are your grandkids on your prayer list, and if so, what kind of things do you pray for them? Because it occurs to me that a championship grandfather who is a man of faith, one of the greatest things he can do is pray for those grandkids.

Carey: Um-hm. It’s just like even today we have what you call 31 virtues to pray for your kids. And so, we use that. And what I pray for my children and grandchildren is to have a servant’s heart, that they would serve each other and serve those at their school and all of this, where they are employed.

But I was convicted about 10, 12 years ago, in my war room, as we say—it’s the Carolina Room, but the Lord said, “You need to pray in this room.” And He led me to do something that is so therapeutic for me, and that is to write down all of their names every morning, because God can do more than I ever could, if I had all of them around me every day.

But the things that are coming against us today, we have to realize it’s gonna take strong spiritual force in the way of the Holy Spirit. And so, I have found as I write down their names I can be very intentional and picture them as I pray for them, and we will have a greater opportunity. And I just love their prayer card, to pray for them to have courage today. [To] pray on the 13th for their purity. “Lord, my grandchildren, they don’t even know how,” well, they’re smart; they know how to spell “sex,” but that they would remain pure and wait for their spouse when they’re married. But to pray intentionally in that way. And God is honoring that in a wonderful way.

Jim: I think that’s a great thing.

Carey: But I do know I’m being attacked in ways that I never could have imagined, so I have to be in prayer for my dad, for the heritage I received and for the legacy I will leave.

Jim: And I think it would be great to post those, John, online for folks to go to and look at those virtues. We may come up with a few of our own, but we’ll create something there that people could pray over their grandkids and their kids. I’m still thinking in the dad mode here.

Carey: And it will help the grandparents to relax. The teams that will win the Super Bowl will be the ones that keep their poise, don’t lose their minds, even when it’s tough. And so, what I’m finding is to rest, relax, and that’s what my grandchildren need to see.

And many times when they stay at the house, spend the night, they’ll come in, get up early. They’re at grandparents’ house; they just get up early and want to get Grandma’s muffins and they love it. “It’s muffin time!” They just run down to the kitchen.

Jim: I love that. Of course you played college ball and, you know, it’s just wonderful to see that championship attitude, and you’ve done this in your book, Championship Grandfathering.

Carey: I’m humbled to be able to do it and I honor you all in helping us get this message out in the books and all that, Championship Grandfathering and the 31-Day Dads Challenge and all of that.

Jim: Well, it’s good, and Carey, it’s always inspiring to have you here. I love your message, what you’re doing to build people up. That’s who you are, and you really learned that from your dad. And we heard a little bit about that the other day at our Focus on the Family chapel about the relationship you had with him. What an amazing man. The thing I said when I got on stage with you is that a great father has created another great father in you, and now a great grandfather with, not a great-grandfather, but a wonderful grandfather. (Chuckling)

Carey: Well, Tony Evans wrote our foreword to our new book, Championship Grandfathering.

Jim: Well, good.

Carey: But he’s a great-grandfather now, and he looks younger than me, so I’m wondering how he did that. (Laughter)

Jim: Well, for all the granddads out there, get this book, Championship Grandfathering. It will equip you with ideas and other things that you can do to be the grandfather your grandkids need.


John: And that book is published by Focus on the Family and we’ve got it, of course, at http://focusonthefamily.com/radio. Or you can call 1-800-the letter A and the word FAMILY and we’ll get that out to you right away.

And today if you can support the work here of Focus on the Family as we publish resources like Carey’s book and have so much on the website and do events and so much more, we need your partnership. So send a generous financial contribution today and we’ll get a complimentary copy of that book to you as our way of saying thank you for joining our support team.

And one more thing as we close. Focus on the Family is celebrating 40 years on the air and “Adventures in Odyssey” is celebrating 30 years aboard the Disney Dream this fall. The ship is registered in the Bahamas and the only thing missing on this cruise is you and your family. So, join us. We’ve got details at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.

And speaking of Odyssey, next time on this program, you’ll hear one of those radio dramas about one young person’s journey to do something significant.


Whit: Oh. So, you want to do something big for God.

Trent: Yes!

Whit: Hm. (Music) You know what? I have an Imagination Station adventure that just might be the ticket for you.

End of Excerpt

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