<<inter-generational relationships>>

Some grandparents consider this latter stage of their lives a time to selfishly indulge themselves in their own personal pleasure, while others use their time, energy and resources to interact and make an impact in the lives of others, especially their offspring. The degree of involvement in future generations can range from always being available for childminding and rescuing the parents of the grandchildren that can lead to resentment and feelings of being used through to the other extreme of total independence and disconnection with the resulting isolation leading to lasting regret.

Often a close bond develops between these two groups of vastly different ages when they are living in close proximity with regular interaction. The senior members can play an integral part in the dynamics of a healthy extended family by making themselves available and being involved. As they listen and offer advice they can be a pivotal and steadying influence. Inter-generational relationships need to be

Do I have a godly input into formative lives?

fostered and strengthened with love and genuine interest to bridge the wide cultural divide that exists between various generations in the modern world. Characteristics evident in wholesome kinship networks include respect for each other, fulfilling responsibilities, reciprocal support and resilience due to varying life situations as encouragement and positive affirmation are given.

The paramount role of believing grandparents is to pass on to future generations a godly heritage; “Teach them (God’s commands) to your children and your children’s children…Then they would put their trust in God” (Deut 4:9, 6:2-9; Ps 78:4,6,7; Eph 6:1-4). By living a Christ-centred life they should be able to say to their grandchildren “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor 4:16, 11:1). Christian grandparents because of their relationship with Christ should have convictions and values based on biblical principles. They will aim to keep in touch with each grandchild – this is easier when living nearby otherwise this is dependent on technology and mail. It is important that the impressional minds of the young people know there are grandparents who care and are willing to phone or write a note specifically to them. Good grandparents will support the grandchildren’s parents in the difficult task of raising their children. While there will be a differing of opinions and methods sometimes, yet unless it is about a matter clearly mentioned in the Bible and would lead to disobeying the Lord, grandparent’s should support the grandchildren’s parents. If there is an issue that needs addressing this must be done privately, out of hearing range of the children. While grandparents consider they have so much more knowledge and advice to give, this should only be given when asked for. The parents of your grandchildren are still the mother and father, and therefore responsible before God for the training and discipline of their children.

Although grandparents should not meddle in, or override, the parent’s authority over their own children, prayer is effective! Pray for your grandchildren on a regular basis: for their salvation, help and wisdom in everyday life challenges, future career and life partner choices. “God forbid that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you” (1 Sam 12:23). May each grandparent aim to live so that when they depart this life, the memories and input they have left behind have helped (and not hindered) others on their journey of life and most importantly pointed them towards heaven.

Ideally, the legacy Christian grandparents leave for their grandchildren should be of greater worth than momentary value (Prov 13:22; 2 Tim 1:5). They should have instilled Godly values into their young descendants on a consistent basis through the example of living out their faith and talking about the Lord.  

What legacy am I leaving to succeeding generations?

The sins of previous generations are passed on down through the family line (Ex 34:7). This is a strong incentive to live God-honouring lives and so, in a measure, protecting those in our family from the perils of life. Through deep repentance, these inherited bondages and curses can be broken through the power of Christ (Neh 9:2).

See also: children, curses, family, generation, heritage, inheritance, input, instruction, legacy, support.