[More On] How Grandparents Can Help Grands Connect to Church For Life
A couple of months ago I posted an article on ways that Grandparents can help their grandchildren connect to church beyond their childhood years and into their adult lives. While, admittedly, the parents carry the greatest weight of responsibility and influence, Christian grandparents possess a deep and natural concern for the spiritual progress, as well as the eternal destiny of the grandkids. The issue is certainly addressed much easier when the parents of the grandchildren are fully engaged in the life of the church. When Tom Crites and I conducted our research and wrote about it in our book, Why They Stay, we laid out the fifteen major issues that affect the likelihood that children would stay connected to church as adults. Grandparents were not among those fifteen issues. But, that does not mean that they cannot or should not strive to make a difference. In my previous article I shared ideas particularly applicable for those whose grandchildren had parents who were not raising them in church. The four points were:
- Revitalize your relationship with your adult children (so there are no barriers to your influence).
- Do what you must to get your grandchildren to Jesus.
- Share the tools (of how to keep children connected) with your adult children.
- Be a model of faith and a cheerleader for the faith development of your grandchildren.
I have a grandson who has parents very actively engaged in the life of the church. Let me share three additional points that apply in this more positive circumstance.
- Model a healthy marriage to your adult children. My wife and I recently celebrated 35 years of marriage. I am blessed to say that I am happily married. One of many keys is that I became a student of healthy marriages long ago. A healthy marriage is not only more enjoyable for my wife and I, but it also has a spiritual effect on our children. I want them to know that in spite of current cultural trends that long, life-time, happy marriages are possible. It takes work, a forgiving spirit, flexibility, patience, and unconditional love, among other things, but it can be accomplished. Why does this matter? It matters because if my adult children have healthy marriages, the likelihood of my grandchildren coming to faith and connecting to church for life is greatly increased.
- I am determined that my wife and I will never be the source of conflict in my children’s marriages. Did you know that one of the four leading causes of marital conflict is “in-laws.” I have several in-law jokes in my humor repertoire but this is no laughing matter. I hope my married children never have any really serious marital problems, but if they do, I am determined that it will not be me. Don’t be the source of the conflict! Your children were to “leave and cleave.” Give them the appropriate amount of space.
- I am investing tangibly in the marriages of my adult children. God put something on my heart as I continued to work through what I learned that keeps kids connected to church for life. If it is indeed true that strong marriages greatly increase the likelihood of lifetime church commitment then I need to invest in my children’s marriage. I will not say the amount because we all have varying levels of resources at our disposal. But take note of what my wife and I have done. I explained to my two married daughters that we have set aside money in a fund that is available to them for any of the following:
- It may be used to attend a couples or marriage enrichment retreat.
- It may be used to by a book or any resource that will educate them about a stronger marriage.
- It may be used, without any judgment from me, for marriage counseling.
The message communicated to my adult children is as important as the amount of money. I am there to encourage their marriages to grow and be strong.
Because, if and when it is, it makes a difference to my grandchildren. And in case you didn’t know it, my grands are the best!