Question of the week: How do you help grandparents help a grandchild?



This is a question that comes up quite often when I’m visiting with a children’s minister or a church leader. Many times the grandparent doesn’t actually ask for help but the church leader can sense the grandparent is struggling.

First: Begin praying for the grandparent as soon as you realize there is a problem

Second: Without being intrusive visit with the grandparent to find out what is going on and how you can help.

Third: Realize the grandparent is probably grieving the loss of their child’s marriage. They may be hurting for their child and concerned about what their adult child is feeling and how they are going to survive the divorce. Give the grandparent the link for DivorceCare for the adult child and DC4K for their grandchild.

After the initial grieving over the death of their child’s marriage, the grandparent must now wrap their minds around what their grandchildren are experiencing. They must figure out how to help the grandchild who might be angry, sullen, sad and or acting out.

The grandparent may also be very angry and upset about what they assume their ex daughter in-law or son in-law has done to cause the divorce. If there has been abuse or other negative circumstances, it makes it even harder for the grandparent to control their own emotions and remain neutral. The grandparent needs to conquer his or her own emotions as it may greatly affect their influence over their grandchild.

Fourth: Realize that grandparents can be special people to their grandchildren. They can be a safe place for the child to fall.

How you can help the grandparent

  • Encourage grandparents to provide a safe place for the child to express their feelings about what is happening in their lives. Grandparents can do this by being in control of their own feelings and not making negative comments about either parent.
  • Remind the grandparent to keep in mind they are not the child’s parent.
  • Tell them to listen to their grandchild without judging.
  • Listen to the child without making comments. You may not like the child’s other parent and may be upset but that person is still the child’s other parent.
  • Grandparents can provide a retreat for a day, a weekend and during holidays.
  • Purchase special non-expensive gifts on Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween.
  • Always mail birthday cards and cards on holidays and special days.
  • Celebrate special days such as
    • National Ice Cream Day, July 19
    • National Bubble Gum Day (first Friday in February)
    • International Pillow Fight Day, April 7
    • Skate boarding day, June 21
    • International Talk Like a Pirate Day, September 19
    • Dress Up Your Pet Day January 14
    • Seuss Day, March 2
    • National Chocolate Day October 28 (Also July 7)

For more fun activities see Whacky Holidays grandparents can celebrate with grandkids.

If the grandparent lives a distance away encourage them to celebrate the fun and whacky days like National Ice Cream Day of Bubble Gum Day on Face Time or Skype. They can eat an ice cream cone together or chew bubble gum and see who can blow the biggest bubble.

Grandparents can also provide childcare when a single parent is stressed and needs a break even if the single parent is the ex son in-law or daughter in-law. When the child is sick and can’t attend school or childcare or needs to go to the doctor or dentist the grandparent can pick up the slack by being available.

If the grandchild or children live in a single parent home without a dad, the grandfather can be a role model. If they live in a home without a mom, grandmother can be the role model. Grandparents can fill in the gap.

When the adult parent(s) remarry

Many times when one of the parents remarry the grandparents my find or feel they are being pushed away. Encourage the grandparent to remain calm. The grandkids will still need them more than they realize. Always being available via phone or text is just one small thing a grandparent can do.

If the stepparent is bringing children into the newly blending family, the grandparents may very well be the only calming factor especially at the beginning of blending the two families. If the newly formed family brings a new baby into the mix, grandchildren will need grandparents to help them process all of their emotions. While the grandchildren may love the half sibling, there will still be some questions that need to be answered. Grandparents can assure grandkids they are still loved.

Grandparents need to be available to be able to tell the grandchildren about family heritage and traditions. Many times when the parent remarries they forget family traditions and family heritage as they are forming these new families. Grandchildren need to hear family stories.

Most importantly, passing on the faith

Grandparents can be a catalyst to passing on their faith to the grandchildren. They can share answered prayers. They can send a short scripture on the day of a test. They can read bible stories together and take the children to church with them.

We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. Psalm 78:4 (NIV)



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