Embrace Your New Role
by Drenda Keesee
So what areas can a grandparent or family member impact? Remember the television show The Waltons, with grandparents living under the roof with the family? The grandfather took the boys fishing, taught them life skills, and had time to offer a listening ear when dad was busy at work. Grandma helped make the family dinner, and the entire family was home every Sunday for dinner after church. This may work better on television than in real life, but certainly family gatherings can help accomplish this even if living under the same roof may prove to be a bad idea.
Grandparents can teach skills, help with homework, purchase a gift, make a craft, or share a hobby. They can share family history, showing pictures of their parents when they were small and other family members. This gives children a sense of identity and security. Often they have time to do things that busy parents may not. They can encourage good behavior and reinforce obedience to parents. They can teach manners and respect with a gentle accepting heart of love. They can cook family meals and provide a place for fun and parties.
I was thrilled when Gary’s father offered to…
pay for our girls’ dance lessons for a year as a Christmas gift. Consider furthering your grandchildren’s education with classes or zoo passes or family fun packages if you’re in a financial situation to do so (and Mom and Dad approve).
Recapture the vintage picture of gathering weekly to reconnect today. I know a large multi-generational family that has had an open pizza party every Friday evening for over twenty years. It’s available to them, and family members regularly show up! Everyone doesn’t always come, but more often than not they do. It’s aided their family to weather some storms and bring them back home in hard times.
As grandparents, it’s hard to recognize that getting the entire crew together consistently may not be possible. There is something in every parent that wants it to be like it used to be, to get all the kids together and relive the “good ole days.” It may be harder to manage in today’s transient, disconnected world. Use video messaging, social media, and creative gifts and trips to reconnect the family as much as possible, but realize it will not be the same as it was raising your family, and that’s fine. Embrace the new vintage family and make the most of it by being positive and grateful for what you have and the new memories you can make with your grandchildren, even if it’s reading a book over Skype or Facetime.
One grandma shared with me that she babysits over Skype almost every Friday night, talking, reading, and entertaining her grandchild, both living across the country from one another while the mom does her company bookwork in the adjoining room. She decided to fly in one Friday and surprise her grandchild in person for their Friday night date (with Mom’s knowledge). The small child was ecstatic, and later told her grandma she didn’t have to go back in the box again!
Another grandma I spoke with hosts a Grandma Camp every summer at her home. She makes elaborate plans for crafts, games, field trips, and a sleepover in a tent in the backyard. She themes her camps using medieval castles, knights, princesses, and dragons. I’m looking forward to hosting a “Grand-mama Camp” myself from her inspiration as soon as my grandbabies are old enough! I’ve had an occasional overnight experience, and it was great fun! Have fun and refuse to get old! It’s a choice. “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green” (Psalm 92:14).
Conversely, I’ve seen couples whose parents want almost no involvement with their grandchildren and do not accept the joy of being a grandparent. They see it as, “I raised my kids. I am not ready to be a grandparent.” It is an adjustment to age, and sometimes these grandparents see grandchildren as a reminder. If that’s your parents, give them some time to make the mental maneuver; try to be as positive as you can, and let them experience your child in small doses at their pace. Most will come around when they have an encounter of love.
I think it’s safe to say that all grandparents have to adjust to grandchildren, especially after being empty nesters. All children are different and have their own unique personalities and gifts. Don’t compare them; just embrace their individuality. Our grandson Dawson is like a little tank going full speed, sometimes crashing into things, falling, laughing, and getting back up to do it again. My husband can barely watch, fearing the little guy will get hurt. He turned to me and said, “How did we raise five kids?” Our big-brown-eyed little Cady is such a nurturer, holding a dolly and blanket cuddled to her chest since six months old. She always finds the baby doll and holds it as a mommy would a baby.
Ivory at two is a country cutie and loves to catch and hold frogs of all sizes, even huge bullfrogs. She giggles in delight and simply loves them! I have to act as though I’m not terrified. I bought her a stuffed animal frog from Cracker Barrel (the grandparents’ store), and when I told her it was a frog, she looked at me as though I was from Mars and proceeded to find a real frog and show it to me.
One evening I kept Journey who had just turned three and could easily double as Shirley Temple! Head full of brown curls, she skipped and danced around my living room singing at the top of her lungs to “Just a Spoon Full of Sugar” as together we experienced Mary Poppins. I had a flashback, remembering the sheer delight I had seeing the same movie the first time at the theater as a little girl.
Parenting requires almost everything of a person, so having an occasional break can be a lifesaver. Grandparents who are wise can use this as a wonderful life-changing adventure with their grandchildren and can be a second voice to confirm what their mom and dad train and model. A second voice unified around the same cause, training the next generation for the purpose of God in their life. Psalm 145:4 reminds us, “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.”
Excerpt from “The New Vintage Family” by Drenda Keesee
Drenda Keesee’s contagious zeal and humorous personal experiences help make her ministry of spiritual, emotional and relational wholeness one that will bless your life and spark a new fire in your spirit.
A wife of over 30 years and a mother of five children, Drenda has ministered at churches, seminars, and conferences, and through the mediums of television and radio, for more than 20 years.
Her books, The New Vintage Family, Better Than You Think, and She Gets It are available wherever books are sold. In these heartfelt books, Drenda shares her personal journey and the life lessons that have brought her to where she is today, as well as practical answers that all people need to live a joyful life.
Drenda and her husband Gary founded Faith Life Now, a ministry designed to spread the message of freedom in the areas of finances, faith, marriage, and family. Faith Life Now hosts conferences worldwide, and sponsors both Fixing the Money Thing, which Drenda co-hosts with her husband Gary, and Drenda.
Through their own life experiences, the Keesees have found the principles from God’s Word to be powerful and effective. At one point, Drenda was a young, suicidal feminist with no hope of ever being “good enough” for her own standards of perfection. She never wanted the “inconvenience” of a husband or children, and she was on her own path to success. But the stress of trying to achieve perfection and perform for love left her broken and used. She had success, but it was nothing compared to the pain and loneliness it had also brought.
That’s when God got a hold of her heart. It was there—at her lowest point—that she found the One who accepted and loved her, faults and all. Since that transformation, Drenda has had a passion to reach women who find themselves where she once was.
She married Gary after attending college, and there she found herself in a personal boot camp of sorts. She says, “I cried and told God, ‘I can do anything but be a wife and mother.’” She committed to learning how to do it God’s way. Through the many years of raising their children and struggling to make ends meet, Drenda learned from their mistakes. “I didn’t know how to be a wife and mother, but God saved our marriage, taught us how to parent our children for success, showed us how to have financial success, and then irony of all ironies, He called us to ministry.” It’s truly because of these life experiences that Drenda can now share so many insightful principles for people who are now going through the same struggles.