Friday, September 3, 2010

Being a Grandparent

In 2008 I received two of the greatest blessings of my life. My little grandson Tyler was born in May and my sweet granddaughter Ava Claire arrived in September. The arrival of Aiden Ryan last week has added extra thrill and excitement into our lives and we are basking in his newborn sweetness. Did you know that nothing, and I mean nothing, smells better than the top of a newborns head. The scent is absolutely heavenly. I have had the privilege of snuggling this little guy and I just. can't. get. enough. I love him so much.

Just like a roasting marshmallow over a flame, my heart has grown and melted all at the same time. Love has filled me until I think I might explode. And simultaneously, my newly enlarged heart has melted as I hold each of those sweet innocent lives in my arms. My joy knows no bounds. Being a grandmother has filled me with new energy and optimism.

I have had the privilege of spending lots of extra time with Tyler while his mama tends to his new little brother. What fun we have had! I have learned this week that I am going to spend more time with each grandchild individually, and not always all of them at the same time. You learn so much about each one when it is just one-on-one time. Tyler has made me laugh more than I have laughed in such a long time. For instance, whenever I put on my reading glasses he peers at me seriously for a moment and then his face breaks into a big grin and he points at me and says, "Mia has goofy glasses!" Why is grand parenting so much more fun that parenting?

I have thought a lot this week about what the responsibilities of grand parenting are. I guess I never really realized before that there are responsibilities if we choose to accept them. Before becoming a grandmother I just thought it would be all about baking cookies and babysitting and spoiling my children's children. I never considered the important role I would actually have in their growing up. Realizing that has both excited and humbled me. Am I up to the task? I want to do this well but where on earth do I even begin? So I began making a list of things that I think are important to this very high calling. Here is what I have so far:

1. Support your grandchild's parents. Keep in mind at all times that they are the parents, not you. It may be tempting to continue parenting them in their parenting - but resist the urge! I have found this to be especially true in the discipline and dietary areas of my grand kids upbringing. Now is the time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your own parenting labors - and trust me, it is a true joy to watch your kids in action. They will do a better job than you did! And that's just how it should be. Occasionally your kids will come to you with questions or asking your advice and that is the ONLY time you should give it - when they ask!

2. I believe the most important thing I can do for my grandchildren is pray for them. Seriously. Can you imagine raising children in today's world? My grand kids will face things my own children never dreamed of. It is harder and harder to keep the world from corrupting and polluting little minds. A couple of years ago I had the privilege of attending a Beth Moore conference. During one of the breaks she went into the audience and scooped up little babies out of their mama's arms. She oohed and aahhed over each one and then she did a most precious thing. She laid her hand on the baby and prayed a specific Bible character's attributes over each one. Nothing blessed me more in that whole conference than watching that. I was sitting next to my own pregnant daughter (who went into labor that very night) and I determined right then and there that I would claim a specific Bible character for each of my grandchildren, learn every Godly trait about them that I could, and pray for those same qualities for each of my grandchildren. What a joy it has been to do that. I have even written a letter to each child telling them who the Bible character is that they are being "prayer-modeled" after so that many years from now - they will know that their grandmother prayed for them. I can't think of a single thing I could do that will have more eternal consequences than this.

3. Get to know them. What do they love? What makes them happy? What talents and gifts do they possess? What are their fears? What books do they love? What foods do they love and what foods do they hate? Spend time alone with each grandchild and make them feel like they are the one you love the very most of all.

4. Read to them. I keep plenty of books on hand and I love to read to my grand babies. Sometimes they sit still and sometimes they don't. It doesn't matter - keep reading. Children hear even when they are busy and the melodic, rhythmic sound of reading is good for their little souls.

5. Take advantage of every opportunity to educate. Count everything with them. Count rocks and butterflies, shoes and books. Sing ABC's to them. Point out things that start with B and D and T. . . Learning doesn't have to take place at a desk -it takes place with every interaction. Capitalize on the opportunity you have as a grandparent to teach your sweet grand babies.

6. Spend more time than money. Sometimes grandparents can get caught up in the trap of buying, buying, buying - thinking that is showing love to your grandchildren. All it really shows them is that they can get what they want from you. By spending time with them they learn to love and appreciate you for just being who you are. Of course, the occasional special gift is awfully fun to bestow upon an unsuspecting and unassuming child!

7. Something I plan to do with my grand kids is tell them verbally something God has said or done for me during the day. I wish I had done this with my kids more. I think it makes God more real to them when they see how real He is to me.

So, there you go - seven ways to be a more effective grandparent. I'm sure there are many more. If you have any ideas, share them with me - because like I said, I want to do this right. I absolutely love this time of my life!

You will soon notice a new ticker in my sidebar! This is my way of announcing that grandbaby #4 is on his/her way. I tell you, it just keeps getting better and better!!!


Becky said...

Oh my goodness that is some GREAT advice. I hope that I get to put it all into practice some day. I can't wait! I am so loving seeing your love for your grandbabies through your eyes. What did we do before blogging?

Glenda said...

Wonderful pointers for all us grandparents!!

Dawn said...

What good thoughts. I have such high aspirations for how to grandparent well. But then I have them so much and I get so tired and I turn into a mothering mode instead. It has been hard lately.

I can't believe you're having #4 already. Wow. Things are popping for you!

I'm glad things are slowing down for you at school a bit and that we'll hear from you more often!

diane said...

Really wonderful advice for grandparenting, Robin. Thank you!!