Have you ever run a relay race? When I ran track, our coach spent a lot of time in practice on passing the baton. He would say it didn’t matter how great of a runner any of us was if we couldn’t successfully pass the baton from one to the next without dropping it. And grandparenting is a little bit like passing the baton of responsibility off to the next generation. The baton transfer is equally important. The difference, though, between a track relay race and grandparenting is that in track you pass the baton and stop running, but in grandparenting, you pass the baton and keep running alongside the next runner, your adult children. And I don’t just mean until they seem to get the hang of it, until they hit their stride, until their kids are in school, until their kids are parents themselves—as grandparents, we are to run alongside our children as they parent our grandchildren until God calls us home.
Practical Ways to Run Alongside Your Kids As They Parent:
- Pray for Them
God works through the prayers of His people. Approach His throne of grace on behalf of your children and grandchildren. You know as well as the next grandparent that your children and grandchildren are facing some challenging days. Being prayed for is one of the greatest blessings.
More on how and what to pray for your children and grandchildren in another post.
- Encourage Them
Look for the ways in which they are doing great at parenting (big and small) and encourage them. When they have a hard day, when they face a circumstance that is heavy, when they get knocked down, when they have a breakthrough of success, when they move to another stage as a parent, encourage them. What you say as a parent will forever matter to your children whether that seems to be true or not. They want to know that you’re running alongside them even if they take a different route than you did.
- Give Advice (When Asked)
Some adult children might never solicit advice, but when they do, be ready with Godly wisdom and learnings from your experience. A caution: If your advice includes judgment of how the circumstances were arrived at or judgment of previously attempted solutions, you might not be asked for advice again. This is not to say they were right in those things, but the moment at which advice is being sought, is usually not the best moment to share that insight.
- Help Them
This might be as simple as holding a baby so they can take a shower or helping shuffle kids to practices, or as complicated as navigating paperwork for a complex medical insurance appeal or as gut-wrenching as helping them figure out how to grieve a child. If there is a way that you can lighten their load, do so. Note: Their load is still not your sole responsibility, it’s theirs. Helping with the load by being present, by tackling some logistics, or being a sounding board is a help. Taking the load from them so they don’t have to experience it is not ultimately helpful.
- Point Them to Jesus
We all need to be pointed to Jesus every day. Be in the Word yourself. Learn to recognize how God is at work in your life and in the lives of your children and grandchildren. Whenever possible, point them to Jesus and the things He’s been doing that you’ve been observing.
If you hung up your running shoes when you finished passing the baton off to your children, get them back out and starting running alongside of them.
Anything to add? Comment below with some practical ways you run alongside your children as they parent.
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