Researchers suggest that more than one kind of behavior is biologically written on the human heart. For example, “fight and flight” is a biological response to threat. So is “tend and befriend.”
Anyone who knows grandparents knows that their instincts are different from those of parents. Parents often have a tendency to fight and flight responses when helping their children. Parents want to protect their children when dealing with teachers, bullies, and coaches who don’t give a child enough play time. They may also have to remove their children from situations where harm could occur. Parents don’t let children go to birthday parties where supervision is insufficient or discourage involvement in dangerous activities.
Grandparents, on the other hand, have time to tend and befriend. They are not the front line of biological and social defense. They are the linebackers. They are the people who help the child feel safe and warm and loved. Grandparents can tend to a child through an activity as simple as playing cards. They can befriend a child by evoking the child’s natural curiosity. Grandparents have a great deal of freedom, which they often put to good use. They have fun with their grandchildren. They enjoy and delight in them.
As parents we can recognize the importance of grandparents in several different ways. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
National Grandparent’s Day is Sunday, September 9, 2012. Talk to your pastor or another church leader about celebrating this day in a special way. Encourage grandparents in the congregation to bring their grandchildren with them to church on this Sunday (or vice versa) and sit with them. Acknowledge grandparents with token gifts or a special slide show.
Say Thank You
Encourage your children to thank their grandparents not only for birthday gifts but also for gifts of time, such as when a grandparent reads them a story or takes them for ice cream. Remember to thank your parents in front of your children for all they have done for you. Every now and then ask your children to write a special thank-you card or draw a picture “just because.”
Whenever possible, include grandparents in your children’s activities. Invite them to attend sporting events, special school events and church activities. Ask your Sunday school director about sponsoring a special Sunday school event where grandparents are asked to teach a class, even if only one Sunday a year. The child whose grandparent participates will beam with pride, and we will find that many of our seniors teach a very good lesson. They can offer a lesson from their personal “archives.” They can teach the way they used to teach. Thus, children will get a Bible lesson and history lesson all at once.
Ask Them to Share
Another way of honoring grandparents is to ask them to share their own stories. Write them down or make an audiotape or videotape recording so that children can keep their grandparents’ memories. Audio and video archives are an excellent way of linking a family to its past and of helping children know their own stories. The grandparent’s story becomes the child’s story.
Grandparents are a gift from God. They need to be recognized! As September 9 quickly approaches, why don’t you think about ways that you can honor the grandparents in your life—not just one day but every day of the year.
from: Leader in Christian Education Ministries. Used with permission.