Possibly more than ever before, many grandparents have become the significant caregivers and providers in the lives of kids. Various reasons contribute to this growing challenge, but regardless of the why these grandparents are taking on a mammoth task during years that were intended perhaps to be their “empty nest” years. Free time for many grandparents is being replaced with car pools, lunch preparation, after school and weekend activities. But most importantly, if it were not for these grandparents stepping into this critical role many grandchildren may not be in church. Thus the question — what can your church do to encourage grandparents who have taken on the task of parenting their grandkids? Consider these five easy, but meaningful strategies:
- Begin by acknowledging that the “grandparents become parents” phenomenon is occurring in your church. Call a key meeting of kids leaders to brainstorm a list of grandparents who are actually pulling double duty as grandparents and parents. Add to this list by way of input from key adult/senior adult leaders, also.
- Plan a “Grand Parents Day in your church. Include all grandparents and invite them to a celebration of this season of life. Plan for refreshments and a brief devotional from your pastor. During this time, pay special tribute to those going above and beyond the call of duty by actually “rearing and nurturing” their grandchildren.
- Offer “Parenting Classes for Grandparents.” Consider a panel of parents who might address the topic, “If I were a grandparent raising kids, I would be sure to remember to…”
- Consider a support group for this niche of folks in your church. Provide meeting times when they can get together, share ideas and encourage one another.
- Make sure that whatever you do does not become a “pitty party” for these folks. Remain positive and applaud them for stepping into this role “for such a time as this!” Invite other folks in your church family to become their prayer partners who touch base with them regularly and ask about prayer concerns. Encourage these prayer partners to send uplifting notes to these grandparents occasionally.
Jerry Vogel serves as a Childhood Ministry Specialist in LifeWay Church Resources. He is married to Janie and has four children and twelve grand kids. Jerry is a member of Brentwood Baptist Church and teaches preschoolers there. He is committed to enriching the lives of those who teach kids as well as making eternal investments in the lives of children.