• Promise Collective

/ 5 tips for Gran

My grandmother, I called her Nan, was typical of how we might expect a grandmother to be: small, grey hair and glasses, a ready smile and an easy laugh. Picture the gran in Little Red Riding Hood or “Granny” in Loony Toons! To me, her eyes always seemed to twinkle and she was my friend. She lived in Bournville and worked at Cadbury’s before retiring. I only recall her as ever being retired. Her house was an old terraced house with a long garden and an outside toilet. At the bottom of the garden were gooseberry bushes and rhubarb; me and my older brother used to secretly eat the sour gooseberries. She was a Christian who didn’t go to church. I remember her defending her faith and the evangelist Billy Graham on more than one occasion when she was coming under some gentle mocking from her family.

Oh how times have changed! Today, grandmothers are often much younger and glamourous. Gone is the blue rinse covered by a scarf, the permanent aprons and sensible shoes. Replaced by jeans and leggings, iPhones, and year-round cruises. (although even as I write this I exclude myself from this description too!) I think I’m in the transition era. Whichever description you fit into, one thing is sure, being a grandparent is such a special and unique relationship. Your children, whom you have loved and raised and agonised over and prayed over and been there for throughout all their growing up, have now become parents themselves. Wow! I went through childbirth each time our daughters gave birth. Each birth was very emotional and holding your grandchild (we have nine) for the first time is such a special blessing and privilege.

Billy Graham once said, "The greatest legacy one can pass on to one's grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one's life, but rather a legacy of character and faith." And this is our role as grandparents. Simple. Just as being a parent is a learning curve, so too is being a grandparent. There are biblical principles that can be applied to grand-parenting whereby we do indeed leave our grandchildren, ‘a legacy of character and faith.’

I don’t claim to be the authority on Grand-parenting - but as a nanny of 9 loving the journey, here are my top five tips:

1. Prayer

Seriously, there is nothing you can do which is greater than this. And I can assure you, you’ll be kept busy. Prayer is not just for your grandchild, but also for the parents. How much do they need, in this day and age, persistent, prevailing prayer for wisdom?

2. Listen

Busy parents don’t always have the time to listen, but grandparents generally do. I once told my nan that I’d been given a detention at school (my one and only), I was mortified when she then told my mum. Be ready to listen and wise in what and how you share things back.

3. Support

This is towards both your son/daughter and your grandchildren. Be there to offer support not control, support not manipulation. Never belittle the parents or the decisions they make, remember they are also your son/daughter. Support the decisions of the parents and don’t set yourself up as the one grandchildren can run to, to get their own way. We always have a tin full of sweets and chocolate as treats for the grandchildren – actually our sons-in-law equally love sweets and chocolate. But our daughters are monitoring the sugar in-take so I’ve cut back on the treats too. They are the parents, so it’s their call!

4. Be a Story-Teller

Children love stories and especially your stories and those about their own parents. It creates a rich sense of belonging. But again, be wise in the stories and outcomes that you tell, don’t throw yourself and anyone under a bus so to speak!

5. Be a Faith-Builder

2 Timothy 1:5 says, - 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.” Live out your faith openly and pray with them. Children often ask difficult questions, philosophical and theological, help them to discover the answers. When they’re young, they want to have the answer; but when they’re older encourage them to discover those answers through scripture. One of our daughters once said to my husband John, “Dad, we’re Christians because you and Mum are. If you were a different religion, we would be too.” A very astute statement. The conversation: “Do you pray?” “Yes.” “Who do you pray to?” “Jesus.” “Does he answer your prayers?” “Yes.” “Then you have your own relationship with Jesus and your own faith.” All of our daughters walk with Jesus. This legacy can continue to grandchildren and we pray that the legacy will continue for many generations.

by Julie Smith

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