By Veronica Olson, Crosswalk.com
There are many cliches about grandparents: how they spoil their grandchildren, how they allow their grandchildren to eat treats and watch television, or how they hang every piece of their grandchild’s artwork up on the refrigerator. These may be lighthearted stereotypes, but there is deeper truth to them, as anyone who is blessed to have grandparents in their life will affirm.
Growing up, I was abundantly blessed to not only have a grandpa and a grandma in my life, but to have seven living grandparents (including great-grandparents). These grandparents each poured into my life in different ways: some by having me over for fun sleepovers, some by giving me special gifts on birthdays or holidays or even “just because,” and some by adding money to my college savings. Above all, my grandparents blessed me by showing an interest in what I was interested in; by listening, remembering, and engaging with me.
While I have had to say goodbye to some of my grandparents, my paternal grandmother and I still have a close relationship that has enriched my adulthood. During these challenging times of COVID-19 we have shared phone calls, messages, and laughter.
Living in the time of COVID-19 may mean that you are not able to see your grandchildren in person, but there are still many ways you can show them you love them, and many ways they need you in their lives.
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1. They are someone to talk to.
The challenges of COVID-19 have left many people stressed, overwhelmed, worried, and struggling emotionally. Don’t underestimate the gift of being there to listen to a grandson who needs someone to tell about the project he finished for his online school class or the granddaughter who wants to share about her post-graduation plans.
FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom are all great ways to talk with your grandchildren, but a simple phone call will also be just fine.
My grandmother and I have talked on the phone about once a month ever since I went away to college, so this was a natural habit we kept up.During COVID-19 we’ve simply increased the frequency of our calls a bit, and we’ve also messaged on Facebook since my sister created an account for her several years ago.
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2. Someone who has lived through challenges and can offer encouragement.
The biblical wisdom that “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life” (Proverbs 16:31) is certainly true. Grandparents have more experience and have faced more challenges, so they have had more opportunities to know that God’s grace and loving kindess will see them through. What wonderful wisdom to impart to your grandchildren in these uncertain times!
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3. Someone to give advice on gardening, cooking, home projects, etc.
While being at home most of the time, many of us have finally had the time to tackle that home or yard project we’ve been putting off. Grandparents are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to these things. My grandmother particularly loves gardening. Since my husband and I recently bought a house, this will have been our first spring in it, so it’s been fun to talk with my grandmother about the flowers that are blooming and what I should plant.
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4. Someone to send a care package.
Care packages are always fun to receive. They make you feel seen and loved. But they are especially appreciated during these unsettling times. Every grandchild, no matter what age, is sure to appreciate a care package filled with snacks, games, notes, or other thoughtful items (toilet paper, perhaps?).
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5. Someone to remember birthdays, anniversaries, and special dates.
Grandparents are often the best at remembering birthdays and other special occasions. My grandmother even writes down everyone’s birthday, anniversary, and other events on her calendar. She has dozens of calendars now that basically function as diaries. She always remembers these dates and doesn’t miss sending a card or giving a call.
COVID-19 has made in-person celebrations difficult or nonexistent, so getting a card in the mail with a note, or receiving a phone call on a special day is sure to be appreciated.
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6. Someone to pray for them.
Thankfully, praying is something you can do anywhere, no matter what is going on in the world. The next time you talk to your grandchildren, ask them what they specifically need prayer for. It is always comforting to know someone is lifting you and your concerns up to the Lord, and what better people to do this than grandparents!
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7. Someone to share Scripture with them.
Many people are feeling discouraged, anxious, and frustrated while living through these times. There are so many uplifting Bible verses and stories you can share with your grandchildren to encourage them.
Philippians 4:6-8 is one of my favorites: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
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8. Someone to laugh with them and share humor.
I have found in my life that grandparents tend to have a wonderful sense of humor. They have lived a lot, been through many ups and downs, and have learned to be able to laugh at themselves and see the lighthearted side even of bleak situations.
When my grandmother and I talk on the phone we always end up laughing about something, whether it’s a humorous story one of us shared, something silly a family member did, or a funny memory.
Laughter is truly a gift as the Scripture says: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength” (Proverbs 17:22). Although these times are challenging, there is always something in which to find joy.
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9. Someone to offer advice.
Whether your grandson or granddaughter is five or 35, they are sure to benefit from your wisdom gained through your own experience in life. Of course, you shouldn’t preach at your grandchildren, but during these times of COVID-19 many people are feeling unmoored and are looking for sound advice and wisdom.
Your grandchild may be pondering what colleges to apply to, how she should proceed with planning her wedding during this time, how he should handle a tough situation at work, or what she should do because she misses spending time with her friends.
Helpful and thoughtful advice from a grandparent is likely to be much appreciated, and sometimes a grandparent’s advice is received even when a parent’s wouldn’t be.
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10. Someone to be vulnerable and honest with them.
Don’t be afraid to let your grandchildren know how these times of COVID-19 have also been challenging for you. What have you learned? How has God been working in your life to increase your trust in Him? What has brought you joy and what are you most fearful of? Witnessing your openness and honesty will inspire your grandchildren to share their own honest thoughts and feelings with you, other family members, and the Lord.
How are you connecting with your grandchildren during this time? What is God teaching you about your relationship with them? We hope you found this article helpful and encouraging. We are so thankful for all the grandparents!
Veronica Olson wrote her first poem at age seven and went on to study English in college, focusing on 18th century literature. When she is not listening to baseball games, enjoying the outdoors, or reading, she can be found mostly in Richmond, VA writing primarily about nature, nostalgia, faith, family, and Jane Austen.
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