Josh McDowell has ten grandchildren ages 12 and under. He said in the 55 years and the more than 34,000 times he has he has been speaking to people, he had never before spoken to a conference on grandparenting, but he was very happy to be able to do so, as after Jesus, his family was his greatest motivation.
Josh shared two things for us to be aware of as grandparents -
- The internet - he shared how in 2012 children averaged 18 hours a week on the internet, 2014 it was 42 hours a week and in 2015 they averaged 77 hours a week.
- Our grandchildren will look at porn. Period. We can not protect them from it. 50% to 70% become addicted to porn. You can not protect a child's innocence through ignorance - you do so through knowledge, a loving relationship and the power of Christ.
This sounded discouraging, but he went on to say, while we can not protect them from porn, we can, and must, prepare them for when they see it the first time - if we do, they will survive. I found this both challenging and encouraging - the challenge to be intentional, focused and proactive and encouraging to know it is not really discouraging news. We can - and must - do something to prepare our grandchildren, so they know how to respond with the mind of Jesus! Encouraging for sure!
Josh went on to share statistics from research he has been doing on porn and how it impacts children, youth and adults - including Christian children, youth and adults. He shared with us the key to raising grandchildren . . . we have to remember -
- Rules without relationship = rebellion
- Truth without relationships = rejection
- Discipline without relationships = anger and resentment
It matters so much for us as grandparents to invest in and to be committed to be intentional Christian grandparents! It matters what we do and building a relationship with our grandchildren is essential!
Josh shared seven principles for raising children - while there are no guarantees, as our grandchildren have freewill, these seven "A's" will help us build relationships with our grandchildren which will transform them and their lives - and us as well! These seven principles will help us make the time we have count! (Download online for free - http://www.josh.org/resources/youth-family/7as/)
- Affirmation - Romans 12:15 - we need to authentically rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn - share our grandchildren's sorrow at the moment, do not try to dismiss it or immediately make it "go away". Affirm how they feel when they rejoice and when they mourn. Identify with them and affirm their emotions.
- Acceptance - be sure they know we love them unconditionally - this will help them feel secure. Romans 15:7 we need to love them like Jesus does - no matter what, they are created in the image of God and have infinite value, dignity, worth. When they know we believe these things about them, they will rise to the level of our opinion of them. Acknowledge their effort more than their success, so they know you love them no matter what.
- Appreciation - let them know they are significant. Significance = feeling and thinking I've done something worthwhile. Josh challenged us to catch them doing something right and then appreciate them.
- Availability - this tells them they are important (and we absolutely know they are!!) Matthew 19 - Jesus was available for the children - great example for us. Josh shared how his children/grandchildren know they may interrupt him any time, because they are more important to him than anyone. Yes, they need to be polite and respectful, but he said adults understand if he stops talking to them for a minutes and says; "Excuse me a moment, my child/grandchild needs my attention, give me a minute." He shared how he was talking with President George Bush and his child needed him, so he said, "Excuse me sir, my child needs me." He shared how the president later sent him a note and thanked him for what he said. Told him he got in his car, locked his security out and called his two daughters!
- Affection - our grandchildren need to know they are lovable! They need to hear us say we love them at least ten times a day and have appropriate physical expressions of love. Jesus said to, "love as I have loved you". Nothing is more powerful than the love of a dad or grandpa . . . even more powerful than the love of a mother and grandma, because it is unexpected to hear a dad or grandpa say and show their love.
- Approach their world - gives them a sense of connection. 1 Corinthians 13:5 - "love does not demand its own way" - do what they want, step into their world; shows real love and you care about what they care about. Be a hero to your grandchild! Do things they like and be sure to connect what they like to God.
- Accountability - Romans 14 - hold them accountable with reasonable rules and limits. Grandparents need to be careful - be quiet unless adult children give permission to help them raise their children and set limits with love. Never discipline your grandchildren without them knowing they are loved.
Josh gave us much to think about - and act upon for sure as we all want to make the time we have with our grandchildren truly count!
The Legacy Grandparenting Summit was life-changing for all the grandparents who participated - if you did not have grandparents and/or church leader from your church at the summit, watch for info in the next few weeks about how you may get recordings of these excellent speakers! legacycoalition.com