Do you have elderly parents or grandparents? Do you ever see them? How often? If you are not able to see them, do you write to them? Call them? Send packages to them?? Do your children know them? Really know them?
Tonight, in my home in the USA, via Skype with the aid of a webcam, my father-in-law, aged 88, who is visiting us, spoke to and saw, LIVE, his granddaughter and her new baby daughter…….in China. They had a nice conversation. Then he spoke to his daughter in Japan where she and her husband are missionaries, and she could see us all sitting behind her dad in our family room. They will soon be getting a webcam, so that her new baby granddaughter in China will know who she is when next they see each other.
We sometimes take these technological advances for granted. My sister-in-law commented how different it was 30 years ago when they left for Japan, and the only way to communicate was through snail mail. I remember a memorable Christmas, when all the family gathered around the telephone awaiting a phone call from her sister, also a missionary, in Australia. It was thrilling, but certainly frustrating, too, talking to her for the minute or less I was allowed, because there was at least a 3-5 second delay after everything said. Now, when talking to my sister-in-law on the phone in Japan, she sounds like she’s next door!
Nowadays, you don’t have to become a missionary to end up living far away from parents and grandparents. Busyness, too, can place “distance” between families. Many factors seek to destroy the connection between the generations. The Bible has much to say about generational faithfulness, and the responsibilities of grandparents in their grandchildren’s lives. Fathers are to teach their children and their children’s children the truth of God’s Word. Deuteronomy 4:9–“Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.” Proverbs 13:22, Proverbs 17:6, Psalm 45:10 are just some of the additional passages which speak to this.
Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:
Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.
For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children:
That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children:
That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments
Do elderly parents’ hearts rejoice when they can both see and hear their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, hundreds or thousands of miles away? Does it make a difference in a child’s life when there’s a grandparent present on a day-to-day basis in their life? What if there is a relationship built up between Grandpa and Grandma and grandchild? In this day and age of people moving multiple times and all around the world, what are some things that can be done to cause closer relationships between generations? Could technology be used, when there is distance, to make a positive impact on the future by fostering relationships through communication?
We must be intentional, if we’re going to obey God in this area. Here are two excellent articles on the subject. There’s two at this link on The Grandparents’ Role and the third is on how to make it work when your children’s grandparents are a long ways away, entitled Long-distance Grandparenting. Great articles. (I will be on the lookout for some articles coming at this from a distinctly Christian perspective, as well.)
If you are living far away from your parents or grandparents, think about intentionally planning how to keep, or make, the relationships strong–between you and your parents and between your children and their grandparents. It’s never too late, as long as they are still living. If the grandparents have a computer, why not buy a webcam, (they’re not very expensive) and get Skype (it’s free). You’ll be able to see and talk to them free no matter where they live–and connect relationally! Better yet, why not plan out how and when you will see them on a fairly regular basis. If they are Christians, it’s important to realize that God, in Scripture, commands parents to teach their children and their children’s children. So, they need to have input into your children’s lives. (This is a multi-generational perspective, which we should have in our minds as we’re training our children, as well, right now–what you do in training and raising your children will have an impact on your grandchildren some day. Since you are responsible for teaching your children’s children, too, it’s important to realize that you’re training your grandchildren’s parents. You are having input into your grandchildren’s lives when you train your children. Later when you actually do have grandchildren, you’ll enjoy the privilege (Lord willing) of teaching them about Christ, sharing the gospel with them, and of teaching them a way to live that is pleasing to God. By your impact and influence, by loving them, by how you live, and by being a part of their lives, you will make a difference and have the joy of knowing that your grandchildren are walking with the Lord. The responsibility for how they turn out will mainly fall to their parents, though, but you are raising them right now, aren’t you?
Honoring your elders–your parents and your children’s grandparents–is obeying God. And building closer relationships between them and your children will be a great blessing not only to your parents, but to your children, because grandparents are a very important part of a child’s life.
Thanks for reading Faith’s Firm Foundation!