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On becoming a grandparent (part 4)

In this final article, I’m exploring the wisdom of the Bible  i'm going to be a grandma

to find out what it has to say to grandparents.

One of the greatest privileges of grandparents is to pray for their grandchildren (and they can start  this well before they are born), but they also have a responsibility to teach their grandchildren what they have learned from God. I love this practical advice from Moses to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 4:

‘Just make sure you stay alert. Keep close watch over yourselves. Don’t forget anything of what you’ve seen. Don’t let your heart wander off. Stay vigilant as long as you live. Teach what you’ve seen and heard to your children and grandchildren.’

I can’t help but think this is what Timothy’s grandmother did, for Paul writes to him in II Timothy 1:5 :  ‘I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.’ 

The Bible describes grandchildren as a blessing, as we see in passages like this one in Psalm 128:5&6: ‘Enjoy the good life in Jerusalem every day of your life. And enjoy your grandchildren. Peace to Israel!’.

And in the book of Ruth, we see a picture of the blessing which grandchildren are to their grandparents, when Naomi’s daughter-in-law Ruth has her baby:

Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse.

But the Bible also illustrates how grandparents can bless their grandchildren. In Genesis 48, Joseph brings his two sons to the deathbed of his father, Jacob, who blesses them with this blessing:

“May the God before whom my fathers
    Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully,
the God who has been my shepherd
    all my life to this day,
the Angel who has delivered me from all harm
    —may he bless these boys.
May they be called by my name
    and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac,
and may they increase greatly
    on the earth.”

If you are a grandparent, how can you bless your grandchildren?
If you are a parent, how can you see that your children are a blessing to your parents?

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On becoming a grandparent (part 3)

The BBC recently ran an article entitled “Indulgent grandparents ‘bad for children’s health’.” i'm going to be a grandma

The article looked at the areas of diet and weight; physical exercise; and smoking.

Grandparents were accused of using food as an emotional tool; their grandchildren were perceived to be getting too little exercise while under their care; and smoking around the grandchildren became an area of conflict between grandparents and parents.

To be fair, the report focused on the potential influence of grandparents who were ‘significant – but not primary – caregivers’ in a child’s early years, so these are not grandparents like my friend in my previous blog who sees his grandchildren now and again and feels free to give them a treat (and who of us wouldn’t?).

Grandparents who are significant caregivers obviously have a greater involvement in their grandchildren’s lives – and therefore the potential to influence them more, whether for good or for bad.

In the article, actress Maureen Lipman said that being a mother could be “quite challenging”, but being a grandmother was “just pure pleasure”.

Which reminds me of an old saying that grandparents love grandparenting because they get to do all the fun things – and then hand the kids back to their parents.

How do you view this if you are a parent? or a grandparent?

On becoming a grandparent (part 2)

In June 2016, ‘The Guardian’ ran an article entitled ‘Ten Ways to be a Fabulous Grandparent’ – here is a summary of what it came up with:

  1. Don’t admit your fears                                 i'm going to be a grandma
  2. Don’t project
  3. Avoid jealousy
  4. Only offer what you can give
  5. Brush up on your skills
  6. Be clear about cash
  7. Break the rules – a bit
  8. Don’t spend a fortune
  9. Manage long distance
  10. Accept that you have no control

No. 7 reminds me of a friend who is a grandparent who looks after grandchildren from time to time. From my observation, grandparents in this category think that part of their role is to spoil the kids – to give them treats that they are not allowed at home. My friend’s philosophy is that, if the kids have ‘sweetie day’ once a week, he can decide to have a extra sweetie day when the kids are with him.

Fair enough? What do other grandparents think of these top ten tips?

And what do you think if you are a parent?

 

On becoming a grandparent (part 1)

When does a granny become a granny – at conception of the baby or on delivery of the baby?     i'm going to be a grandma

I feel like I am already a gran. (You will notice the name-changing here – my exact title has yet to be finally decided. Maybe ‘nana’ sounds best, after all.)

I already care fiercely for the new lives which are growing in the wombs of both my daughters.

I feel protective of my daughters in a different way than I have ever done before.

I can’t wait to meet these two little babies.

But, as I wait, I’m wondering: what is a grandparent? And what kind of a grandparent will I be? And what kind of a grandparent should I be?

For it is becoming clear to me that there are several different kinds of grandparents. And what kind I will be depends on several things: what kind of a person I am; what the needs of my grandchildren will be; what the needs of their parents are; and the time and energy and other resources which I have available at the time.

The dictionary defines a grandparent simply as ‘a parent of one’s father or mother’. That’s not awfully helpful.

‘Psychology Todaysuggests there are 5 types of grandparents. This is a summary of them:

1. Formal grandparent: follows what are believed to be the appropriate guidelines for the grandparenting role, which includes providing occasional services and maintaining an interest in the grandchild, but not becoming overly involved.

2. Fun seeker: emphasizes the leisure aspects of the role and primarily provides entertainment for the grandchild.

3. Surrogate parent: takes over the caretaking role with the child.

4. Reservoir of family wisdom (usually a grandfather): the head of the family who dispenses advice and resources but also controls the parent generation.

5. Distant figure: has infrequent contact with the grandchildren, appearing only on holidays and special occasions.

There are more and more grandparents who fall into category 3, due to things like illness, death and divorce.

So, if you are a grandparent, how do you see this? where do you fit in?

If you are a parent, what about your perspective? where do your parents fit in?

 

On becoming a grandparent

It’s November 2017 and both our daughters are pregnant.i'm going to be a grandma

As we look ahead to becoming grandparents, we are filled with joy and anticipation. This is such a blessing – and one which we don’t take for granted. We are excited – and nervous.

For we are also aware that this is brand new territory for us. What will it be like? What can we expect? I have been doing a little bit of thinking….

Relationships: Why Can They Be So Scary?

I received this in my inbox this morning and just had to share it.

Why are relationship struggles so disappointing? Why do the problems we have with other people affect us so powerfully? Why is relational disappointment one of the hardest disappointments for all of us to face? Let me suggest some reasons.

1. You were created to be a social being. You and I were never designed to live in isolation. We were not wired to be distant from and unaffected by the people around us. In fact, since we were created in God’s likeness, desire for and participation in community is a fundamental part of our humanity. The God who made us in his likeness not only does community, he is a community! To deny this aspect of your daily life would literally be to deny your humanity. There would be something dramatically wrong with you if you removed yourself completely from other people. What this means is that the hurts of relationships cut deep. In a real way they touch the essence of who God made you to be, and because of this they are not to be taken lightly.

2. We all tend to enter our relationships with unrealistic expectations. Somehow, someway, we are able to swindle ourselves into thinking that we will be able to avoid the difficulties that attend any relationship in this broken world. In the early days of a relationship we work to convince ourselves that we are more righteous, and the other person more perfect, than we and they actually are. This causes us to be shocked when an unexpected but inevitable difficulty gets in the way of the bliss that we had convinced ourselves that we had finally found. Here is where the Bible is so helpful. It is very honest about the messiness and disappointment that everyone deals with in every relationship they have.

3. We all tend to seek to get identity from our relationships. What does this mean? It means that we tend to look for fundamental personal meaning, purpose and sense of well-being from other people. In doing this, we turn people into our own personal messiahs, seeking to get from them what no other human being is ever able to deliver. That other person is not supposed to be the thing that gets you up in the morning. They are not to be what makes life worth living for you. When they are in this place, you have given them too much power and you are asking of them something that no flawed human being can ever pull off. On the other hand, when you are getting your foundational sense of well-being from the Lord, you are then able to step into the inevitable messiness of relationships this side of heaven, and be neither anxious nor self-protective.

4. We tend to be disappointed in our relationships because they were more about the purposes of our little kingdoms of self than they were about the kingdom of God. Without being aware of it, our relationships are often about what we want out of our lives rather than what God wants for our lives. So we have an “I love you and have a wonderful plan for your life,” approach to relationships with other people. Often we are disappointed with a relationship at the exact moment when God is producing through this relationship exactly what he wanted to produce. Our problem is that our agenda doesn’t agree with God’s!

So, there are reasons for our disappointments but there is grace for them as well. The God who will take us where we did not plan to go in order to produce in us what we could not achieve on our own, will also give us the grace to hang in there as he uses the messy disappointment of relationships to change and grow us and others.

Wednesday’s Word is a resource of Paul Tripp Ministries.

For more information about Paul Tripp Ministries, visit www.paultripp.com

Holding Hands

My Mum passed away one year ago today.

She had been taken into hospital for what we all thought was a short stay – but her condition rapidly deteriorated and she passed away within 24 hours.

My Dad – himself in declining health – wanted to come to the hospital to see Mum and we weren’t sure if that would be good for him. He has 25% of his sight, very poor mobility and has some form of dementia. But, in the end, he came. Mum was sleeping, with an oxygen mask over her face which was making a lot of noise. Dad was sitting in a wheelchair by the bedside. His voice is very weak and it was clear they would not be able to talk to each other or hear one another. So he just held her hand. They must have sat like that for about half an hour, silently communicating their love as they had done for 63 years. Mum’s restlessness ceased. Dad was content. He left the hospital, knowing he had done what he had come to do – he had said goodbye. And Mum knew it. Shortly after that, she slipped away quietly.

The picture of them holding hands in those last few minutes of Mum’s life will be forever etched on my mind. I shared it after Mum died and posted it on Facebook. To my great surprise, a few weeks ago I received a package from a very good friend. It contained a beautiful picture of Mum and Dad, along with this picture of them holding hands, and the words of Steve Green’s song ‘Holding Hands’:

One day,  far away, you gently won my heart

And one night, by candlelight,

we made a vow to never part

And then it seemed just like a dream

When wide eyed, side by side

We faced the future holding hands.

Years fly, they hurry by, the simple times are gone

Bills due, a kid or two, a week can feel eight days long

By fading light, let’s kiss goodnight

And then we trace God’s daily grace

Thankful we’re still holding hands.

There’s a hope that won’t let go

There’s a truth we know

God is holding us

In His arms.

Thoughts stray far away to all that lies ahead

In frail days when strength fades

Will we still mean all that we said?

Our love’s secure, so rest assured

Come what may ’til that day

We’ll walk forever holding hands.

By God’s grace ’til that day

We’ll walk forever holding hands.