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.