Grand Parenting Cross-Culturally

There is nothing quite like the joy of welcoming your first grandchild and entering the awesome phase of grandparenting. What a joy it is for us who have 24 grandchildren. However, along with this privilege comes incredible responsibility, which is not always easy. It takes love, care, thoughtfulness, time, effort and intentional purpose to grandparent with positive influence.

God is into multi-generational thinking. There are often four generations living at one time. In Deuteronomy 4:2 the Israelites were told to “keep the commandments of the Lord your God” and 4:9 says “teach them to your children and grandchildren”. Psalm 78:5-7 is similar. There are many scriptures exhorting us to an active role of generational influence.

Today’s society has an impact on family dynamics. There can be dozens of different challenges for grandparents, for all kinds of reasons that can make grandparenting problematic. One situation is cross-cultural living or marriage, both very common today. How can we impact these grandchildren living abroad, and/or of mixed heritage?

Five of our grandchildren are New Zealand-Fijian, born to our youngest daughter Karlyn and son-in-law Mas from Fiji (see photo up top). We like to see this situation as an opportunity to learn and take an interest in another culture. There is another language to respect and family in Fiji to honour. It can be easy to lose connection, so Skype, letters or visits can help. We need to understand different norms, appreciate different food, and help if necessary. We fundraised and gathered a Mission team to build a house (photo below) to overcome flooding and poor conditions for Mas’s widowed mother in Fiji. Empathy takes intention.

We all want our grandchildren to be world-changers for good, for God, so taking grandparenting seriously is important. We encourage other grandparents to pray for them every day, show unconditional love, show them value as God’s special creations. Encourage them in their activities, celebrate birthdays and achievements, and speak blessing over them. Teach them to ask for God’s help in all things, also praying with them. Model hospitality and be welcoming by sharing a love for other people. Be an example of faithful and righteous living and share the Gospel truths with your grandchildren, modelling interest in missions and helping the poor and needy. Empower them in their identity and belonging by sharing family stories, history and a knowledge of their heritage. Try to look after them when you can in order to give their parents a break.

In so doing, we will impact our grandchildren by leaving a legacy of Godly blessing and family memories.

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