Creative grandparents play several roles throughout the lives of their grandchildren. They are historians, mentors and role models, among other things. All of these roles are significant and important as grandparents seek to love and nurture a new generation.
Grandparents can also be role models for their grandchildren. Grandchildren often look beyond their parents to their grandparents for how life is to be lived — what to include and what to exclude, what to hold tightly and what to hold loosely. Sometimes children look up to grandparents because parents are not worthy role models. Some parents live their lives selfishly without regard for God and others. Others are not present in their children’s lives because of work obligations, sickness or incarceration. When these situations occur, children look to others for guidance and a path to follow. They need someone who will not only tell them the way to live and love, but also model that message with a godly life. Creative grandparents need to be able to say with the apostle Paul, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Creative grandparents model morals, gender and values. Grandparents teach young people social morality and give them a sense of right and wrong, a set of absolutes upon which they can build their lives. In this day of relative truth, grandchildren need models of truth and biblical morality, models that don’t change with the times. They need to see integrity consistently displayed. Creative, involved grandparents provide grandchildren a model of morality to emulate.
Creative grandparents also model gender. This is why it is so important for grandfathers as well as grandmothers to be creatively involved in the lives of their grandchildren. Often grandmothers love and nurture grandchildren, but grandfathers need to be equally involved. Our grandsons must see a “man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners” (Psalm 1:1). They need to see a man whose “delight is in the law of the Lord” (Psalm 1:2) — a man of integrity. Our grandsons must see men who respect their wives (1 Peter 3:7) and love them sacrificially “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Now, more than ever before, our grandsons need a male role model who will be the man God intended him to be, a man after God’s own heart. That is God’s mandate for us as grandfathers.
Our granddaughters must see a woman of excellent character (Proverbs 31), a woman who “opens her hand to the poor” (v. 20), a woman who “fears the Lord”(v. 30), a woman whose “children rise up and call her blessed” (v. 28). They must see a woman who is secure, a woman who is comfortable in her own skin. They must see a woman who treats her husband with respect (Ephesians 5:33), a woman with the “imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:4). This is God’s mandate for grandmothers who love God and desire to be creatively involved in the lives of their granddaughters.
Creative grandparents also model values, showing their grandchildren by their lives what is important and what is not important. Our verbalized values are meaningless to others, but lived-out values confirm our beliefs. James says, “I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18). When grandparents freely give to their church or favorite charity and are unselfish with others, they model generosity for their grandchildren. When they are stingy and drop a dollar in the offering plate, little eyes see that, too. Grandparents’ actions present a strong message to thoughtful grandchildren who are always watching. When grandparents willingly give of themselves to serve God and others and reach out to those in need, grandchildren see altruistic, unselfish people who “look not only to [their] own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). When we invite our grandchildren into our lives, they may listen to our words, but be assured, they will observe our works.Jerry and Judy Schreur are the authors of Creative Grandparenting.