I Love My Grandchildren, But They’re Not My Children: The Role of Christian Grandparents

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On my writing desk there are two pictures. They are the latest school pictures of my granddaughters. On the wall in front of my desk, I have taped two pictures that my wife took and printed off of our four grandchildren sitting on a bench together. They have their arms around each other and their faces are all lit with glorious smiles. Those faces are a living presence here in the quiet and solitude of my little home office. Each time I look at them I am struck with joy and the immense wonder and mystery of God’s inexpressible love.

Last month I entered my eighth decade of life on this earth. As is common with the awareness of one’s mortality and the fact that there are more years behind one than before, one finds oneself reflecting more and more often on the meaning of life, and one’s relationship to its divine Author. When they call me “Papa,” I am constantly reminded in their innocence, their curiosity, their questions, and that I have a God-given role to play in their lives. I don’t have the daily challenges and joys and occasional struggles that came with the daily duties and responsibilities of raising my two daughters. I am no longer caught up in the chaos of “learning as I go” so to speak. I am one of the elders now. My duties are to hand on the wisdoms I have learned over 70 years about life, love, religion and tradition. The Lord charges me now to give examples of righteous authority, that is, the kind of authority that comes from a modicum of wisdom. How am I to do this?

This role is different than the one I had with our children. My responsibilities are different now.

As Christian believers, that is, those who have heard the word of God and who practice it, we believe that God has given us the immense and generous gift of the Scriptures to help guide us through every stage of life, and to inform us as to our duties to one another in accord with his ways. This is why it is important for us to develop the habit of reading and praying over the Scriptures daily.

For example, in Psalm 37:25, we see these words, “I was young and now I am old, yet have I never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging for bread.” One who lives righteously in the ways of God does so in recognition of God’s grace and generosity toward him. It is the means by which one who has personally come to know the love and mercy of God expresses thanks to God for his great generosity. And the righteous are recognized by their actions, not just their words.

A grandfather hugs and kisses his granddaughter in church.

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.
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