The New Flirting-What’s a Grandparent to Do?

Today’s grandparents are faced with challenges unlike any other time in human history, especially in the arena of sexuality. The Sexual Revolution has changed the face of sexuality in many ways for which grandparents are seeking help and answers. How do we deal with all the modern attitudes towards sexuality and the impact that digital technology is contributing to those conversations? As our guest blogger today, Shelly Donahue, declares, “It’s a new day!” And boy, is she right!

Shelly is the founder and director of Tall Truth, an organization committed to telling the truth about sexuality, and educating parents and grandparents about the issues and ways to address these issues with our kids. I think you will find her blog today enlightening and hopefully motivating. We can have an impact on the conversation, Grandma and Grandpa, and Shelly offers some practical advice for doing just that as she talks about the “new flirting” practices among young people today. So, here’s Shelly’s article…

The New Flirting

“Shelly, why did Katie send me a naked picture? I don’t even date her, and I didn’t ask her for it? She sits next to me in math class and now when I look at her, I don’t see her the same way. Why did she do it?” asked Grant, a 9th grade Christian boy. 

WOW! What a different world our kids and grandkids are growing up in from our world as grandparents. I remember the days in school when your best friend would tell you that so-and-so liked you and asked if you liked him, and then she’d tell him your response and it would give him permission to pursue you. We flirted, we dated for a couple years, we kissed, we fell in love, we got married and then…. we saw each other naked on our wedding night – God’s way!

It’s a new day! A sexually-crazed day for our kids and grandkids when sexting (sending naked pictures over text messaging) is the new flirting – YIKES!  As a Christian teen relationships expert, with an emphasis in sexuality for the past 39 years, and hearing parents and grandparents say, ‘How come I’ve never heard this stuff before?’ I am committed to sharing what works.

I’m convinced that the problem in America is not teen pregnancy or teen STDs – the problem in America is teen sex. Let’s direct our children to delay sex. Let’s guide them toward the wonderful purposes God has made for sex in marriage and the benefits of healthy relationship skills in their teen years.

Teens do what they know until they know better. When they know better, they are much more likely to do better! I want to help this generation reach their hopes and dreams by honoring themselves and one other. When teens know why they should wait for sex, when they know how they can wait for sex and when those that care about them support their choice to wait – this generation can wait! They will wait when you teach them – and a good place to begin is in the management of their cell phones. Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Be a healthy model with your own phone usage.
  2. Empower your grandchild to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, to understand their identity in Christ – that their worth comes from their Creator.
  3. Remind your grandchild you’re on their team and that you want them to reach their hopes and dreams for their future.
  4. Be intentional about teaching your grandchildren God-honoring, biblical truths about sexuality, respect for self & others. The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you want them to do to you” is a good starting point. Ask the Holy Spirit how you can do this effectively. Grandchildren will listen to their grandparents if they know they care and take an interest in their lives.
  5. Brainstorm with your adult children about the pros and cons of phone technology, and how you can best reinforce their parents’ desire to do what is best for their children. What specific rules can you help reinforce with your grandchildren when they are with you? How can you work together to teach them to guard against the dangers this technology presents?
  6. Discuss with your adult children the idea of celebrating a phone/technology rite of passage event.
  7. Be willing to discuss with your grandchildren why it is important to not send or receive provocative and inappropriate photos.
  8. Applaud them when they comply with family rules set by their parents… and you.
  9. Create a central charging station in your home for when your grandchildren stay overnight with you, one that is visible to all.
  10. Create a safe place where your grandchildren feel comfortable and confident about discussing anything with you.
  11. If they goof up, forgive them, release them to the Just Judge, bless them and get them back on track.

The research says that the number #1 reason children will delay sexual activity is that their parents were intentional about teaching them. Grandparents are a huge asset for reinforcing that teaching.

We can’t give what we don’t have – we didn’t have this information when we were growing up because we didn’t need it. Not so today. It’s time to be informed, equipped and empowered as a parent and grandparent about how to raise the bar of sexual self-control in our kids’ lives. It can start with their cell phone usage.

Shelly Donahue

Sm grandparents sitting on bridge with grandkids copy

Four Ways to Prepare Your Younger Children for Adulthood

Intentionality, more than proximity, is the key to impacting our grandchildren and helping them grow in their thinking and understanding as they grow from childhood to adulthood. God gave us, parents and grandparents, the primary responsibility for that task. It is foolish to think they will figure it out on their own, or that we can wait till graduation to talk about it. 

From preschool on, we must use the moments we are with them to teach them about life and the Creator of that life. Every connection with them is a teaching opportunity. This isn’t about being fun-snuffers. It’s about intentionally making the most of natural opportunities to teach lessons they will carry throughout life. It’s learning to use the fun times and the not-so-fun times to teach what is true and matters both now and for eternity

Here are four ways to keep life the classroom for learning and cultivating a biblical worldview with preschool and grade school age grandchildren when you are with them:

#1 – Start Meaningful Conversations About Life 

There are three very significant opportunities for engaging your younger grandchildren with meaningful conversations about life. They are…

  • Playtime:As you do fun things with your grandchildren, stay alert to spontaneous opportunities to ask good questions that have the potential of turning play into learning. For example, if working on a puzzle together, you might ask: “Did you know that life is kind of like a puzzle? Can you imagine what puzzle pieces of your life need to all be in place if the picture is to be complete?  Why do you think God designed us like a puzzle?”
  • Mealtime:This is a great time to ask questions about things they did or something that happened during the day. Use questions to encourage them to think about what happened or how it could have been handled differently. For example: “Natalie, why did you handle Jenny’s unkind comments about you today the way you did? Would you do anything differently if it happened again?”
  • Bedtime:There are few more powerful moments for debriefing life experiences or asking them about things they may be wondering about than at bedtime. It’s also a good time to talk about the difference between a child and an adult. You might be surprised to learn what they understand, or questions they will raise. 

#2 – Encourage Growth-Producing Events

With so much emphasis upon sports and digital devices today, you can encourage your grandchildren to do things that shape them into productive citizens and neighbors. Here are a few ideas to prime the pump:

  • Involve them with you in serving others—like the local Rescue Mission, food bank or Habitat for Humanity.
  • Bake cookies together and take them to a shut in or someone in the hospital.
  • Take them to a theater play (choose carefully) or a concert hall to hear music they might not otherwise hear. Talk about what you experienced.
  • Visit museums and art galleries—what is art and what is its purpose?
  • Instead of watching TV, read a book or a Bible story together. Gwen recalls reading Jesus Loves Meover and over to her twin grandchildren when they were toddlers. At age four, without any coaching from her, one of them announced, “Gram, I have Jesus in my heart!” To which his twin declared, “So do I?”.
  • Take them fishing or teach them a craft skill. Talk about God’s role in what you’re doing as you are doing it.

#3 – Work at Being Critically Open-Minded 

Be careful about being drawn into thinking that you should always be ‘open-minded’ about anything culture says is okay. Open-minded is not the same as critically-minded. Today, open-minded often means accepting without evaluation or examination to determine if it’s true (right), or not?

Make sure you know the difference between being critical-minded and being judgmental. Critical thinkers value truth over public opinion, even at the risk of being accused of narrow-mindedness, but they do so with compassion and grace.

When your grandchildren say something you are unsure about, ask them to help you understand. If you know what they are saying is wrong, instead of lecturing, ask questions like these: “Why do you think this is true?” “Who told you it’s true? What if it’s not? Would you want to know?” “How do you think we can find out the truth?”

#4. Be Careful What You Say

Little ears are listening. If you would not want your grandchild to repeat what you say, don’t say it. We are human, and sometimes things come out of our mouths we wish didn’t. Are you adult enough to say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong saying what I did. Will you forgive me, and will you pray with me to do better?”

Impact requires intentionality. Children need our intentional commitment to train them in the way they should go, so they will grow to be mature, responsible and godly adults.

What are you doing to be intentional? Share with our readers some things you are doing.

Living in the Sandwich Club with a Smile… or a Good Laugh

Thank you so much for the responses to a recent post I wrote about Grandparents and the Sandwich Club. Bev P., from Minnesota, shared with me two additional ‘gold nuggets’ that were so good, I have to share them with all my readers. Thank you, Bev, for these practical ways to help us all wade through the rising waters of Sandwich Club realities.

Since my earlier nuggets all formed around the letter ‘R’, I was not able to come up with any good “R” alliterations, so pardon me if I offer them as sub-points under Remember:

  1. Remember to focus on one day at a time. Bev suggests the we work at “keeping our focus only on today’s assignment for us from Him. Do just one thing at a time and leave the rest in His sovereign hands until another day in the future when He may make that the ‘assignment for today’. This requires some mental discipline and much practice! But one-day-at-a-time-living is a vital antidote for exhaustion.” Amen to that, Bev. This was such a great piece of advice.
  2. Remember to laugh. This was my favorite nugget. Be sure to allow for frequent times of fun and laughter! There is something therapeutic about laughter. Even Proverbs 17:22 reminds us that “a cheerful heart is good medicine,” and in situations like Sandwich Clubbers often face, this is good medicine we ought to take often.

Thank you, Bev, for sharing these two extra gold nuggets. It’s easy to forget where our focus needs to be, and how important something as simple as a good laugh is for any hard or exhausting situation. Studies abound describing the positive effects of laughter upon our well-being: reduces stress and increases resilience, combats depression, helps relieve pain. and even boosts our immunity. These are reason enough to laugh more often, but there’s one other thing about laughter I especially love– it’s contagious!

Think about it. How many times have you found yourself in a room with other people, maybe feeling a little down, and someone starts laughing or telling a really funny story. It doesn’t take long to find yourself caught up in laughter as well. I’ve seen hilarious things on Facebook or come across different people of all ages laughing about some crazy thing, and without warning, I’m laughing till the tears stream down my face and my side hurts. You know what I mean –you can’t help yourself. And doesn’t it feel good—like something has been lifted off your shoulders?

So, thanks, Bev, for the encouraging reminder not to take life so seriously all the time. When life is hard and when it taxes our energy, why not find something to laugh about – a good hearty laugh. It’s not likely to change the difficulty we’re in, but it is sure a nice respite.

So, I’d like to suggest a few ways to make laughter good medicine:

  • Read a funny book, or watch some old clean comedy shows like Abbot and Costello, I Love Lucy, or the Carol Burnett Show. They’re hilarious… for all ages. There are also some very funny comedians who are Christians: Ken Davis, Tim Hawkins, Mark Lowry or Jeanne Robertson, for example. (Just make sure your Depends are on. Okay, that’s not funny 😂).
  • Spend time with people who know how to have fun, enjoy life and laugh at themselves.
  • Learn to laugh at yourself and your circumstances. Sometimes it’s easier to get angry with ourselves for something dumb we did, instead of laughing about it. At least, it is for me. Caveat: make sure we’re not laughing at the expense of another person. It’s okay to laugh with, but never AT another person. That’s never funny.

This is good medicine for all of us whether we are Sandwich Club members or not. So, in case you’re having a really bad day today, or you just want to laugh for no other reason, check out this video by Jeanne Robertson.

May you find cheer for your heart, no matter how dark it may seem.