The Importance of Grandparents (And Alarming Trends that Undermine Them)
Three cheers for grandparents! You can make an argument that in every culture in history, one of the key components in holding families together has been grandparents. Just ask any young family who has a healthy and geographically close relationship with their parents. They will tell you that the support and encouragement they receive is invaluable.
In the early years of our marriage, Jenifer and I had the best of circumstances. Both sets of our parents lived close, were involved, and had a solid relationship with Christ. It made having three kids in four years a joy, not an insurmountable burden.
But there are some alarming trends in our world today that undermine the impact that grandparents can have. And some have been adopted by the church in the name of “good sense.” I disagree.
For example, there has been a move in recent years to encourage couples to delay marriage until they are of an “appropriate age.” Instead of expecting our young people to grow up, we are giving our tacit approval of a lengthy adolescence that lasts well into the twenties. So, as good Christian parents, we end up asking our kids to delay marriage but to also abstain from sex. (Now that’s a winning combination!)
The result is that couples get married later. And even after the wedding date, they do what young professional couples do…they invest in their careers. After all, they are not to a place where they can afford children yet. (Why is it that most people on our planet still see children as a blessing from God, and yet here in America, the richest nation on earth, we can’t afford kids? It doesn’t add up.) What we are left with is couples waiting until they are in their mid-30’s to have kids.
So follow this through to its logical conclusion. Couples have children at 35. Their children repeat the trend and have children at 35. What you are left with is people becoming grandparents at 70 when they don’t have the energy, time, or resources to make the meaningful contribution that their children and grandchildren so desperately need.
Add to this the trend of moving around the country to chase employment and the influence of grandparents is decreased all the more.
So what’s the point? It all depends on what stage of life you find yourself in:
Grandparents must be encouraged to remember that they have a tremendous opportunity for impact in their families. It’s not a time to disengage, but a time to support and bless their adult children and grandchildren. Spoil the kids, share some wisdom (when it’s asked for) and show tons of unconditional love to those who come behind you. And offer to watch the grandkids while their parents take a romantic vacation. It will go a LONG way to divorce-proof their marriage.
Parents of teens and young adults should make sure that they coaching their kids based upon Biblical truths and not upon the wisdom of men. Encourage them to start getting serious about life at 19 instead of 25. Set a high standard for marriage for your kids as you model it with your spouse.
And young couples need to submit their futures to God, not just present Him with a plan for His approval. Before determining how many kids to have and when to have them, perhaps a starting place would be to ask God about His perspective on the matter. A good place to start would be to read Psalm 127:3-5 and Matthew 6:19-34.
Grandparents, stay involved! Your influence is a gift from God to the rest of us!