Our third grandchild Austen is going through an interesting season related to eating habits. He currently is not a finicky eater in the traditional sense (i.e., rejecting vegetables), but rather an “all or none eater.” There are times when we cannot get him to eat anything. It seems he can sometimes go through an entire day without any additional fuel and then without any warning sit down at a meal and eat everything placed before him – even the vegetables. We’ve discovered the key to helping Austen stay healthy is feeding him when he happens to be hungry. The same principle applies to nourishing our grandkids spiritually. They consume best when they are hungry. Those teachable moments come without notice and we increase our likelihood of seizing them when we increase our face time with them. Deuteronomy 6:7 describes passing faith to our family as something we do in the context of everyday life.
I realize that many grandparents live far from their grandkids. But we also live in the day of internet, email, cell phones, texting, FaceTime and if all else fails the good-old post office. So distance need not become an insurmountable barrier. You can invest in a webcam with a Skype connection in order to foster regular times of communication. You can even read stories to them at bedtime on certain nights through the internet, on the phone or by sending a recording for them to hear you reading while they turn pages. You can also create special times together in blocks. Some of my best memories growing up were spending two weeks every summer with one set of my grandparents who lived far away.
If we are honest, we have to admit that our problem is not distance. Our problem is lack of intentionality. As children get older, they naturally tend to spend less time with both their parents and grandparents. But this tendency lessens if a relational bond has been established during their early years and if grandparents are strategic about inviting them to participate together in activities in which teens are interested.
Heroic Grandfather Challenge #3: Put in place regularly scheduled times when you get to invest in your grandchildren such as:
- Put a weekly “touching base” call or text message reminder on your planner to prompt “spontaneous” encouragement or conversation
- Plan once-a-month, twice-a-month, or once-a-week sleepovers
- Host a once-a-year entire week or more with grandchildren
- Create Grandfather/Grandchild events or dates
- Establish birthday traditions (like breakfasts with them)
- Help grandchildren pick out and purchase Christmas gifts for their parents
- Create a Fall Festival celebration each year
- Observe annual celebration of their salvation
- Establish Easter traditions
The key is creating recurring meaningful experiences that, once they have been instituted, take place fairly automatically.
Find more ideas at the INTENTIONAL GRANDFATHERS page.