She sat back in a response of relief with a bright smile. She said, “I’m going to Heaven.”
And the next day she did. She was my mother, and grandmother to my children. The last question she ever asked me was if her children knew Jesus, and I was able to say, “Yes.”
As we examine our lives – specifically the way we parent or grandparent – what’s the greatest question we could ever ask? We can’t control the answers we might get from our children and grandchildren, but we can have a lot of influence.
My wife, Marcia, and I have three adult children and eight grandchildren – ages 5 to 16. Family time for the Hansens means all kinds of trips, meals and games together, but the role of the grandparent boils down to a simple, genuine truth: love them unconditionally.
That’s not the only thing, but it is the first and best thing. Some of the best ways I’ve found to support that foundation as a parent and grandparent, involve the following:
Be Intentional with Time. Sometimes that means vacations, but more often it means ongoing communication – which usually means text messages – that I like to pepper with Scripture or quotes with great Biblical concepts. My oldest grandson and I go through books together, and then we’ll go pound some queso and chips together to talk about them.
Tell Stories. Share those stories of faith, history and family. I think they’re important. When I was going through my family’s records, I found a listing of agencies and missionaries with money amounts next to them. I figured it up, and my parents were giving 30 percent of their finances to missions beyond church. I showed that to the kids and I said, “This is what I want my legacy to be.” I challenged them to the same kind of legacy.
Have Fun. Sometimes I’ll just attack them with a water balloon or a water gun – then we’ll have fun running around shooting each other. Boys like to wrestle … though as they’ve aged and I’ve gotten older, they’ve grown too big for me. Cornhole in the backyard is a big hit. But I think you pick your times to have fun, and always have words of affirmation. Whenever I see their giftedness I encourage them. Every one of them is unique and special.
Pray for them. There’s nothing else more important. To love them means to pray for them. Do this daily. Do this with intention. Do this with passion and pleading for their future.
Andy Hansen is the president of Christ In Youth.