By Carolyn Tomlin
Contributing writer, Baptist and Reflector
In Tennessee, 168,215 (11.37 percent) children under 18 years of age live in households with grandparents or other relatives. Also, 74,406 grandparents are householders responsible for grandchildren who live with them (details: here).
The Volunteer State is no different from other states. It is estimated that in the U.S. 2.9 million grandchildren live with grandparents. Across America, grandparents are stepping in to raise their grandchildren when the children’s own parents are not able or willing to do so. These “custodial” parents often put their retirement on hold until a later date. And a substantial percent live in poverty and have a disability.
But there are other grandparents who share their lives with their grandchildren, yet children live with their parents. They plan fun activities, schedule both quality and quantity time together, and are blessed to have youngsters in their life once again.
One of the ways to give of your time to grandchildren is to share the love of Jesus with them. Christian grandparents can make a difference. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” Proverbs 22:6 (NIV).
Randy Kellough, pastor of Woodland Baptist Church, Brownsville, and his wife, Paula, have three grandchildren who live nearby. Kellough offers these suggestions for non-custodial grandparents.
• Grandparents have an obligation to make church a priority. “As much as possible, we pick our grandchildren up and bring them with us to church,” says Randy. “They know that Sunday is ‘church day’.”
• Treat people with respect. Use Jesus for a role model.
• Model what we believe. If children observe adults saying one thing — yet doing another—this causes confusion and mistrust.
• Bringing your grandchildren to church is an important investment in how you serve Christ.
• Go with your grandchildren to church. Have you known people who dropped the kids off and ran errands, played golf, or returned home and picked the children up when church was over?
• Expose grandchildren to gospel teaching. Sunday School and mission organizations provide Bible studies on the child’s level.
• Talk about how God directs our lives and how He wants us to have a happy, joyful life.
• Be a positive influence in the life of your grandchildren. See the good in others. Expect great things to happen.
• Be aware of how God works in the natural world. Point out a beautiful sunset, the fragrance of rain, beauty of a rainbow, early morning fog, hues of fall foliage — all immeasurable blessings we use our senses to enjoy.
Pray for your grandchild. These years of childhood are so very brief. You, as grandparents have so much to teach in this short time. Believe that you can make a difference. And thank God for the blessings of being a grandparent. B&R — Tomlin, of Jackson, writes for the Christian magazine and newspaper market.