By Anne Peterson, Crosswalk.com
Being a Grandparent is a wonderful thing. I have four grandchildren here and one in heaven and they give me such joy. But there are grandparents who see their grandchildren more than just part time. There are even some who see them 24/7. Many grandparents today are stepping in to raise their grandchildren when the children's own parents are not able or willing to do so. According to the U.S. Census of 2000, over 2.4 million grandparents have responsibility for their grandchildren.
Centers for Disease Control, states that about 3 percent of children nationwide live apart from their parents and of those, nearly two-thirds are being raised by grandparents.
Grandparents who are raising their grandchildren make sacrifices every day. Instead of looking forward to retiring, they are rewinding and repeating their parental duties. And yet, they are doing it with less energy than they had the first time around. For those raising their grandchildren, they may have the extra burden of caring for children who had been abused or neglected and this takes an even greater amount of patience and understanding. In this situation, it will take time for the children to feel safe and secure.
But even though challenges exist, there are blessings to being a full time grandparent. Let's look at 4 of them:Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Jose LuizPelaez Inc
1. Your grandchildren will understand their roots
Seeing a grandparent day to day gives the child a strong sense of where they came from. It’s wonderful hearing stories of when mom or dad were little and all the things they liked doing. And the stories of grandparents are even more interesting because those stories happened further back in time. Grandchildren will learn that no matter when their grandparents were born, similarities with them still exist.
Stories from the past help a child to understand how they not only fit in their family, but how far back the family really goes. The stories shared will help the child get a better understanding of their own history. When I explain to my grandchildren when my own grandparents came to the United States, they are interested in hearing about it. Everyone wants to know they belong somewhere, and these stories help them gain perspective.
2) Your grandchildren will be deeply known
It stands to reason, the more time you spend with someone, the better you will know about them. Wise grandparents realize their grandchildren are individuals and they will take that into account as they interact with each one. Gary Chapman in his book, The Five Love Languages of Children, shares how learning how your child/grandchild perceives love, will enable you to love them more effectively. Often, we love others the way we want to be loved. But, because there are many ways to experience love, sometimes children don’t feel that love.
Because my husband and I live just fifteen minutes away from our grandchildren, we have had the opportunity to watch them when their parents did worship retreats for the youth. We’d have spent almost a whole week with them more than once. And those extended times enabled us to connect even more than we did, seeing them once or twice a week.
After a while, we could tell if something was bothering them, just by looking at them. More time with them, caused them to relax and just be themselves and we felt a strong bond. But when they left to go home, I have to say, our house became too quiet, compared to when the walls were filled with children’s laughter.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Vidar Nordli Mathisen
3) Your grandchildren will grow to understand the sacrifice you made
This isn’t the reason that grandparents raise their grandchildren, but as grandchildren grow up, they will come to realize the sacrifices that were made. I have a friend I’ll call Mary who ended up raising her two grandchildren. Our kids would play together so I got to know Mary pretty well. I admired her decision to raise her grandchildren. Instead of looking toward retirement for her and her husband, they did all the things parents are required to do.
Now that her grandchildren are grown with children of their own, Mary is enjoying all of them in a special way. She has the satisfaction of knowing she chose the hard path. All out of love. For her own child, and for her grandchildren. Grandparents raising their grandchildren are to be commended. They are true servants.
4) Your grandchildren will see your relationship with God up-close
While it’s true that all grandparents have the opportunity to demonstrate how to trust God, those who are raising their grandchildren are afforded even more opportunities. Your grandchildren can see what you do when little things go wrong. When we see our grandchildren only now and then, we can show them a little. But when they live within our walls, they see the best as well as the worst we have to offer. And it can be wonderful when you are trying to show your grandchildren how to depend on God for even the little things.
Those that raise their grandchildren also have a say as to the child’s upbringing. When you are not raising them, you don’t really have a say in that. Raising children leaves that responsibility squarely on your shoulders.
I was fortunate growing up. I had two sets of grandparents whom I loved. We saw my maternal grandparents every Wednesday night when we would go over to their house. I looked forward to seeing Papou and Yia Yia Savas, and was certain to be offered Kool-Aid in their special little cups with glitter embedded in the plastic.
But we actually lived in the same building with my paternal grandparents. As little children, after my brother and I had breakfast with our own family, we would go upstairs and my grandmother would ask, “Have you eaten yet?”
And I would say, “No.” Then she would place large cups of almost white coffee in front of my brother and me. Coffee so sweet, just like the memory.
I loved both sets of grandparents, but I knew my paternal grandparents more because we saw them every single day.
Grandchildren are truly a gift from God. Let’s pray for all the grandparents.
A Prayer for Grandparents
Father, we want to thank you for our grandchildren. We love these precious ones you have placed in our family. God, for those who are raising their grandchildren, will you give them the strength they need for each day? God, help them to enjoy their grandchildren as they invest in their lives. Refresh these grandparents, God. Let them know how they are serving you, with their choice to raise their grandchildren. I commit every grandparent to you as well as every grandchild. Thank you, God. For children and grandchildren were your idea. We pray this in your Son’s precious and Holy name. Amen.
Anne Peterson is a regular contributor to Crosswalk. She is a poet, speaker and published author of 14 books including her children’s book: The Crooked House. And one of her poetry books, He Whispers: Volume 1 is wonderful to read to children. One of Anne’s favorite titles is Grandma. To connect with her, visit Anne’s Facebook Page, or sign up for her updates at her website www.annepeterson.com, to receive one of her free eBooks.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Sam Edwards