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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Grandparenting 101

Grandparents can and should play a vital role in the lives of their grandchildren.

I know of some parents who are not serving God, but their parents are having a profound godly influence on their grandchildren.

I just talked to my grandma on the phone. Grandpa's not hearing too well, Grandma's memory is fading. She's still positive, still upbeat, and still full of the Lord.

I love my Grandma. I love my Grandpa.

I found this article that I thought I would share with all of your grandparents. Something to think about.

It's entitled, "The Influence of Grandparents and Stepgrandparents on Grandchildren"


Over the past 20 years, increased attention has been given to the importance of grandparenthood. This newfound emphasis on grandparenthood and stepgrandparenthood is a reflection of the increased life span; adults are living longer and four- and five-generation families are more common. It's also a reflection of the importance of grandparents to grandchildren.


Grandparent Influence

Grandparents and stepgrandparents influence their grandchildren both directly and indirectly. Direct influences come from face-to-face interaction, and indirect influences are realized through a third party. Consider the phrase, "It's important to be there for your grandchildren." Being there is a concept that can mean physically being present (direct) or emotionally being present (indirect).

When you make phone calls, attend concerts together or take them places, you are directly influencing your grandchildren. When your grandchildren have been confronted with a situation and think about you, knowing you will be available to support them and that you're on their side, you are indirectly influencing them by emotionally being there. You are a role model to your grandchildren.

It's interesting to note the variety of terms used to refer to the many roles grandparents or stepgrandparents play. For example:

Stress buffer
Roots/family historian

One national survey of grandparents reported that a variety of activities were engaged in with grandchildren such as:

Joking and kidding
Giving money
Talking about growing up
Giving advice
Discussing problems
Going to church/synagogue
Providing discipline
Taking a day trip
Teaching a skill or game
Watching TV together
Talking about parent/child disagreements

Several writers have emphasized that grandparents are very important to grandchildren. They are described as "significant others who have a great deal to do with one's view of life." The intergenerational contact reflects a high value for family connection. Grandchildren exposed to such contact are less fearful of old age and the elderly. They feel more connected to their families.

A North Dakota study found that stepgrand-children tend to have less contact with their stepgrandparents and consider this relationship less important than grandchildren do with grandparents. However, the children surveyed also indicated a desire for more contact with stepgrandparents. Being a stepgrandparent can be more challenging than being a grandparent because the role is less clear. As more stepfamilies are formed, more attention will be given to stepgrandparenting, and the same influences or benefits found for grandparents will no doubt be found to be as important for stepgrandparents.


Making a Memory
Grandparents and stepgrandparents can make a lasting story of their lives for their grandchildren. These life stories grow in value to grandchildren as they grow older.

To capture one's life story, videotape significant events, people and places for present and future generations. Even if you're not handy with a video camera, your family will appreciate the commentary and memories shared as you visit points from your past and present.

It's easiest to do this project as a team, with one person taping and the other providing commentary and interviews. This also allows you to "star" in your own movie. So, select a partner and begin.

First, rent, lease, borrow or purchase a video camera. Next, buy some inexpensive videotapes and practice to get used to the machine and what it can and cannot do. When you feel comfortable with the camera, purchase some high-grade videotapes to use as your master copies for future duplicating.

Next, plan on paper who, what, when and where you will be taping.

Some ideas to consider may include:


Interview parents, siblings, children, cousins and others. Tell some favorite family tales; describe family holidays, sad occasions or any other memorable events.
Show where your family lived. Take a tour of the house, if possible. Tell how it looked when you were growing up, the color of your room, who you shared the room with.
Go to the cemetery and walk through the family plot. Death is a part of life. Were or are there family rituals related to caring for the family graves?
What's your ethnic heritage? Are there things you'd like to share regarding ethnic customs? What does your name mean in your native language? Where did your ancestors come from? When did they emigrate to this country? How did they arrive? How old were they? Does anyone keep in touch with family from the "old country?" What are some of the special stories your family has passed down to each generation?
Where did you go to school? Tour the building and grounds, if possible.
Who were your best friends during your school years? Interview them and tell of the things you used to do together.
Did you have favorite teachers? Interview them, if possible. If not, tell why you enjoyed them or their classes so much.
What extracurricular activities did you participate in? Do you have any news clippings, uniforms or awards to show for these? How about team photos?
Did you go to college or a technical school? If so, where and when? What did you study? What were the highlights of these years?
Do you have a special story to tell about your journey of faith?
What aspects of your religion/spirituality are most important to you and why?
Neighborhood and Friends
Who lived next door, down the road or on your block? Who did you know well and spend time with? Go visit them, and record reminiscing about the special things you used to do together. Bring out the photos, if possible.
Take a drive through the neighborhood, videotaping the countryside and places that had special meaning as you were growing up. These might include the local grocery store where you bought "penny candy," the softball diamond, places you used to go for walks and where you went to church.
Who were your friends throughout the years, and what qualities do you think make lifetime friends?
How did you meet your spouse? How long did you court/date before you got married? Where and how did the proposal happen?
Where were you married? Tour the church/courthouse/chapel, if possible. Describe the ceremony and your wedding day. Who were your attendants? What colors were used? What Scripture or music did you select?
Talk about your marriage if you feel comfortable. What makes your partner special? What traits do you admire most? Any interesting or fun stories to share?
Tell about the jobs you've had throughout your life, including homemaking. Tour where you worked last or are still employed. What were some of the greatest challenges in your work? What were you paid on your first job?
Describe the volunteer work you've done over the years. These may have been in church, at school or as an elected official. What are the fondest memories of your volunteer work? What are the benefits of volunteering?
The sky's the limit! Talk about hopes, dreams, regrets. Tell your favorite jokes. Visit about your favorite hobbies; show the finished products.
Once you've completed the taping, edit if necessary, and make copies for your children and grandchildren. Your history is captured for present and future generations to enjoy."

Grandparents, leave a legacy of godly grandchildren! And may the Holy Spirit help you this day!

1 comment:

Jon said...

Great idea! I only knew one of my grandparents as I grew up...that was my grandmother on my mom's side. Both of my grandparents on my dad's side had died before I was born and my grandfather on my mom's side died when I was a little over a year old. Dad's lived in Kentucky; Mom's lived in Ypsilanti (or Ypsitucky, if you're being particular to the folks who live there) for my entire life.

My grandmother's impact on my life was/is profound. She never learned to drive a car so we took her to work and picked her up every evening (she worked the afternoon shift at St. Joseph's Hospital in Ypsi) when she was done. Up until the time that my grandfather died, she had been the homemaker and had to shift to the breadwinner to keep the family in house and food and essentials. She didn't miss a day of work, even when she was tired or sick. She still went in and let us know that being faithful to your employer was a big thing.

She also went on every family vacation with us as well as I was growing up. Mom and Dad and Grandma and us five kids all piled in the station wagon going around the country. My Grandma loved caverns and caves and I think we visited them all. We did the Florida thing when I was six and the Souix Ste. Marie thing when I was nine but most of the time, we were headed to some cave or another. That stuck with me and when Mom and Grandma came to visit Kim and I in Texas, that's where we the local caves. Now, my Grandma was getting up in years and my Mom was concerned about how she was going to handle the trip and wanted us to go slow. Nope, didn't work that way...Grandma wore us all out as she had the time of her life! See, everyone had stopped taking her to these places because of her age and health...she acted like a little girl loose in her first candy store, she had so much fun. The lesson: Don't ever give up! And don't let other people determine your life.

But what drove Grandma's life the most, and what she loved the best, was her relationship with God and her church. She talked it, lived it, breathed it, worked it, applied it to everything that happened. The last few years of her life were very hard on her as she wasn't able to get out to church often due to ill health...but that didn't stop her from reading the Bible (big print with a magnifying sheet) or hearing the Word (television and radio) and rejoicing that God was good (oh, did she loved those Gaither videos and tapes) as she slowly went about her day.

Her life was one of humble service and she loved us all so much. She went to be with Jesus in February of 2004 after many years of raising all of us in His way...though it didn't stick with all of us yet! Many times over the last ten or fifteen years, she'd say, "Jon, I'm ready to go. But God won't let me yet; I must have left something undone." I still don't know what that undone thing was but I do know that she's home with Grandpa now and happy to be sitting at the feet of the Master. I've always figured that she's got all of her family around her and is still leading the way!

Grandparents are important...I wish I could have known more of mine but the missing of them just made me realize how important my only one any family. If you don't have any grandkids of your own, please adopt some in the church! They'll love you for it!

Go with God...there are no wrong turns in His directions.