by Dr. Ken Canfield
We grandparents have great potential to make a difference in the lives of our grandchildren, and part of that potential power is spiritual. We aren’t usually the main influences in their lives when it comes to matters of faith, but we have a role to play.
I know some grandparents feel that it isn’t just a role, but a responsibility to share about their faith with their grandkids and model behavior that’s consistent with their faith. And some, like me, would take it a step further and say that it’s more than a responsibility; it’s really a privilege and a gift, and we want to share and showcase that gift for as long as we have life.
There are many ways we can invest spiritually in our grandkids, but here are four important ones:
Especially for those who can’t be with our grandkids very often, we still want to make a difference, and prayer is one great way to do that. And really, no matter what our grandparenting situation, if we truly want what’s best for them and we believe in the power of prayer, then this is a natural step. We can pray consistently and boldly for each grandchild by name and for their parents as well.
This can be as simple as a routine blessing as we say goodbye each time after we’ve spent time together. Something like, “I love you. Don’t forget that your biggest fan is praying for you.” This can include noticing their gifts and abilities, their interests and passions, and speaking a blessing for their future, whatever they may be pursuing in life. Also, sometimes blessings include sharing stories and insights about spiritual truths. Sometimes we can say things in ways that will get through to them, or if things are tense with their parents, they may be open to listening to us a little more.
Being Beacons of Light and Hope
In family life there are joys and sorrows, ups and downs, victories and failures, fun times and tense times. As grandparents, we can demonstrate what it means to persevere, to not lose hope, to stay faithful despite challenges. (Our children and grandchildren will definitely notice.) Also, it may be up to us to initiate a conversation or host a meeting to try to bring about reconciliation—whether it involves us or other family members. We’re far enough along in life to know that our time is too short to waste on disagreements or misunderstandings, and better relationships are worth some humility and grace.
Extending Love Outward
Many of us have more grandparenting passion than our own grandkids can handle, and there are opportunities to extend our love and influence toward those in our spiritual family, the Church. It’s a great place to encourage and mentor young people, new parents, single parents, struggling marriages, or really anyone who needs kindness and support. Get involved, maybe stretch yourself, and see how you might be used to help others.
Grandparents, our influence does make a difference. Our children and grandchildren might number seven or eight, fifteen or sixteen, or even thirty or more. But make no mistake: generational influence multiplies. Our spiritual influence over a few grandkids could impact thousands of our descendants in generations to come.
Let’s not miss out on the opportunities before us with our grandkids.
How do you try to influence your grandkids’ faith? What works for you? Share some insights and learn from other grandparents on our Facebook page.