I'm a grandma. That word makes me sound ancient, so they call me Mimi, but I was actually 41 when our first grandbaby was born. We were initiated early.
As a mom, I always tried to instill Christian values into my children, first and foremost by taking them to church every Sunday and Wednesday, but also by allowing them to see me reading my Bible, praying, and reminding them that it was because of Jesus that they still lived and breathed. Wink.
Is it different when the grands start coming along? I would say a resounding yes! First of all, they are not your children. Therefore, unless you are raising the little rascals, you don't see them every waking moment, and honestly, I'm okay with that.
Additionally, it's just different. With your own kids, you feel as if you have complete freedom to immerse them in Bible stories; make sure they are earning their AWANA (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed) badges for memorization; enrolling them in every VBS (Vacation Bible School) known to man; have front row seat in children's Sunday School class...you know...all the things.
Yet, with your grandkids, you have a small window of time with them amid the sporting events, dance class or gymnastics, scouting programs, school events, family outings, etc., therefore a grandparent has to be strategic in the way they pass on their faith.
Though I have definitely not done a perfect job over the years, I will share with you five easy ways I've tried to instill that firm foundation:
Pray with (and for) your grands. We currently have three with two on the way. Each child has had (or will have) that special spend-the-night fun with Mimi and Papa. They take turns deciding who is going to sleep with who. So, on the nights with me, we sing songs that I was taught as a child, I tell them a Bible story with a lot of animation, of course, and we pray. Prayer is key. You see, during those quiet moments in the dark, these little ones learn to speak to their heavenly Daddy. Oh, their prayers are almost always discombobulated and very child-like, but it is the process of practicing that gets them use to talking to God. That's important.
Celebrate holidays with God front and center. I remember one year at Easter; our oldest grandson was probably five. I wanted to teach him the meaning behind the holiday, so we literally built a tomb. I had an old cookie sheet that we filled with sand. We added a larger plastic flowerpot and covered it with some moss that I got from a craft store. We added rocks around the "tomb" and made three wooden crosses to place towards the end of the cookie sheet. It turned out pretty good if I do say so myself, and he loved every minute of it. Yay for Pinterest! It is things like this which help make unforgettable memories.
Always give thanks at mealtime. This is sort of a lost art, but not for the Neace clan. We always make giving thanks a priority even if we are out at a restaurant with a table full of hungry children and impatient adults. When possible, allow your grandchild to say the prayer. Again, it is good practice, but also teaches them the importance of thanking God for what we have been given.
Have scripture displayed all over your home. I have literally had those cute vinyl scripture verses on walls; had little wooden signs strategically placed in the bathroom, in the kitchen, in their playroom, etc. Though they may not be able to read them for a while, as they grow it will be very natural for them to hear or see scripture.
Send them cards in the mail or texts on their phones. As they get older, a strategic Bible verse and/or encouraging word about who they are to God and to you can make all the difference. Everyone needs encouragement. Kids especially need it in the crazy world they are growing up in, and the words we speak over them can definitely build a legacy of faith in their heart. They get enough junk from the world. Why not surround them with God's nuggets of truth?
Well, like I said, I haven't always done it perfectly or consistently, but I've tried to instill the importance of a relationship with God in their lives while they still listen to me. As they grow, it will be completely up to them what they do with it. Of course, I will be praying that God seals the deal in their hearts because that is what Mimi's do.
Blessings to you friend. I'd love to hear some ideas that you've tried.