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Is your Grandparenting a Blessing or Painful?
Grandparenting is a special blessing but can also be a pain. Messy family relationships can leave grandparents hurting, depressed, discouraged, and hopeless. Divorce, drugs, alcohol, and adult children walking away from their faith cause broken hearts for grandparents.
Grandparents are always excited when they learn they are going to be grandparents especially when they there waiting for their first grandchild to be born. The average age of first-time grandparents is around age 47.
The babies are so cute and loveable. My friend, Susan enjoyed just watching her precious baby granddaughter sleep so peacefully. Her smiles warmed her heart, and later she loved to hear her laughing. Then she became a toddler running into her arms and bringing her so much joy. I could hardly wait to teach her about Jesus and take her to church. Then she was told by her son, “We do not want you to talk to her about Jesus”. Susan and her husband’s hearts melted. They had been waiting for the opportunity to teach her about their faith. This story is repeated often. Many grandparents have been told they are not to teach their grandchildren about Jesus.
One grandparent told me that her son said to her that she could not see her grandchild again because the child told him “Grandma wants to take me to Sunday school”. He didn’t believe in God anymore, so he didn’t want his child to learn about Jesus. Closed doors to grandchildren cause broken hearts and relationships.
I have a friend whose son and his girlfriend had a 14-month boy. They went on a trip for a couple of days and left the baby with the girl friend’s parents. They both died in a car accident. Since the girlfriend’s parents were caring for the child, they thought they were in charge of the child and alienated the father’s parent’s time with the child. The father’s parents had to go to court to be able to have time with the child to teach him about Jesus.
The pain is very difficult because it causes a rift between the child’s parent and the grandparents. The grandparent loses one of its greatest joys of life. The hurt is compounded when there is a spiritual separation between the child’s parent and the grandparent. When an adult child rejects his parent’s faith, the parents feel a rejection of the adult child.
The pain is suffocating. Alienation is painful and takes a significant toll on grandparents, especially as their friends are enjoying their grandchildren. A grandparent’s pain is often private; they feel as they have failed in raising their adult child causing a reflection on themselves. Or the grandchild’s parents are going through a divorce, and your adult child does not get custody, making it more difficult to have time with the grandchild.
I am thankful I am not an estranged grandparent, but my heart breaks when I hear the stories of my loved ones.
Broken-hearted/Estranged grandparents have two choices:
Check-in next week for suggestions for the brokenhearted
I have 2 suggestions if you are a Brokenhearted/ Estranged grandparent.
Grandparents @ Prayer group is an excellent safe place for grandparents to share their concerns with other grandparents. My group met this week; some grandparents shared their broken heart with us, feeling safe to share their concern with tears for their grandchildren. We prayed with them and will continue to pray with them in the days ahead, carrying their burden as Paul tells us in Galatians 6:2. (To learn more about Grandparents @ Prayer see the appendix.)
We cannot change others or our circumstances, but we have a powerful God. He loves our grandchildren and their parents as much and more than we do.
Don’t let the enemy get you obsessed with your hurting issues, give them to Jesus because if you are obsessed with your pain, then the enemy has the victory. Trust God to wrap His arms around you and provide you with peace as you wait for Him to answer your prayers. While you are waiting, God may be working but you are not aware of. Ask God if reconciliation is possible, even though you don’t think you have done anything wrong. Asking for forgiveness may be the beginning of healing.
We learn the most from God when life is hard, and we have to trust Him. We often forget that the same God we enjoy in our mountain top experiences is walking with us through the valleys of our lives.
Many hurting grandparents are raising their grandchildren because their parents are ill, in the military, in prison or various situations, especially today with the Opioids epidemic.
The rewards and challenges of parenting the second time around when parents are absent or unable to raise their children, grandparents are often the ones who step in. Raising a second generation brings many rewards, along with the struggles, including the fulfillment of giving your grandkids a sense of security, developing a deeper relationship with them, and keeping the family together.
As grandparents age, raising children can sometimes be challenging. Taking care of themselves mentally, physically, and spiritually is vital to our overall health and our ability to live prosperous lives and raise healthy grandchildren.
Generations United cites grandparents are raising a 2013-2015 study by the Casey Foundation saying around 2.6 million grandchildren. The 2010 Census showed that about 8% of all grandchildren under 18 are living with grandparents. That number grew by about 30% from 2009. Now ten years later, who knows what it is, especially with the opioid issues among millennial parents.
CDC estimates more than 42,000 people overdosed on opioids in 2016. Fentanyl-related drugs are one of the primary reasons. The opioid epidemic is showing no sign of slowing down in the United States with deaths from opioid-related overdoses now outpacing car accident fatalities.
If you know grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, pray for them. Many say they feel alienated and lonely because they don’t seem to fit in anywhere. Many are retired on a fixed income and find raising the grandchildren very challenging financially as well as physically and emotionally. Often they are raising their grandchildren because their parent’s lifestyle doesn’t allow them to raise their own children.
Some hurting grandparents have children and grandchildren in the military. Often grandparents have a big part of raising their grandchildren when either the mother or father or both are deployed. If you know someone who has a loved one in the military ask them how you can pray for them, especially if their loved one is deployed. It is especially hard for them when their loved one is wounded or will not be coming home.
I am thankful I am not an estranged grandparent, but my heart breaks when I hear the stories of many grandparents who have a broken heart.
If your adult child has walked away from their faith, you are not alone. Many grandparents share your heartache. Try to keep open communication with them. Let them know you love them and pray for them even though you do not accept their behavior.
We learn the most from God when life is hard, and we have to trust Him. The same God we enjoy in our mountain top experiences is walking with us through the valleys of our lives.
What are your options if you are an estranged grandparent?
Dear Father, thank you for the grandchildren you have given to us. I pray they will experience your presence with them, even though their home is not a happy, safe place at times. Give the grandparents who are raising their grandchildren's physical and emotional strength, wisdom, and provisions to do the best they can under the circumstances. Help me to live a godly example before my grandchildren so they will want to walk with You In Jesus’ name, Amen.
By Lillian Penner, Author of Grandparenting with a Purpose, firstname.lastname@example.org