A strong relationship with your grandchild, especially in their adolescent years, requires the intentional pursuit of the relationship on the behalf of you, the grandparent. Mark Gregston, Executive Director of Heartlight, talks about the influential role grandparents can play in the lives of their grandchildren.
“You have to be very intentional during the adolescent years. When these kids get into middle school, their social life has changed and it’s expanded somewhat. If a grandparent isn’t intentional about maintaining the relationship, they will be pushed out.”
“It’s not because a child wants to push them out, it’s just that their life becomes crowded. And that’s the time when grandparents might decide they aren’t needed anymore and back away. But I think God wants to keep grandparents around longer because teens are living in a challenging culture and they need the wisdom of a grandparent.”
Parents influence, but grandparents have an opportunity to leave a legacy with their grandkids. They have so much experience and wisdom surrounding life events. Grandparents can give perspective and understanding, especially to teenagers, but it starts with building a relationship and being available to talk and listen.
“I want my grandchildren to know that my house is a place of wisdom, so that they always have a place to come and learn, where they know that my counsel is going to be couched in wisdom. I want to be a person that reaffirms scripture. I want to be the person who brings Scripture to life in their lives. That means I need to preserve and nurture the relationship.”
It’s important to remember that a grandparent’s role is not that of a parent who disciplines, but as a mentor who advises.
“When you have an urge to talk to soon, be patient. God will direct you to a time when your grandchildren are open to listening. We don’t need to go in and do everything at once. Instead, wait for the right time to have discussions where your grandchildren aren’t afraid to ask questions.”
Mark says that a relationship with your grandchildren is one of the most important relationships you will ever have, and it’s one of the most unique relationships your grandchild will ever have as well – don’t miss the opportunity.
Mark Gregston is the founder and Executive Director of Heartlight, a residential counseling center for struggling teens. He is also the host of the Parenting Today’s Teens radio program, heard on Faith Radio. A grandparent to four, Mark has been married to his wife, Jan, for 42 years. His background in Young Life, the local church, living with over 3,000 teens, and helping thousands of parents, has provided the experience to speak and write to the issues surrounding today’s contrary teen culture.