As grandparents, we want to share all important matters of life with our grandchildren. However, not everything that’s of value to us is of any interest to them. When it comes to faith, this can be heartbreaking.
I have grandchildren from two years old up into their middles teens. And my hopes for each one are basically the same. And I’m sure as grandparents, many of you would agree.
We want our grandkids to be healthy, safe, well-cared for, to have all they need and to achieve success. And many of us wish that they connect with our family’s faith.
That may mean regular church attendance, Bible study and memorization, participation in a Bible-based youth group and prayer. It also means character development and a desire to live according to scripture.
However, There are many reasons our teenage grandkids may not engage in faith-based activities or lifestyle.
First, is an attitude of disrespect due to perceived failures on the part of others. If they focus on the hypocrites in this world, or even in their own family’s, it’s not the time for them to embrace a God-centered faith. If some of their complaints are against us, or their parents, we can try to explain and ask their forgiveness. Then be better examples.
Too happy for God
Secondly, some of our teenage grands are just too busy socializing. Religious matters are seen as kill-joys and they don’t have time for anything that steals their fun. Also, their friends may drift away if our grands are too “churchy.”
Teenagers see life as something to be enjoyed, perhaps without consequence, and lectures about faith are taboo.
Since they like to get out and go, we can keep communications open by remaining an active part of their lives.
Ask them about their friends and listen without instruction or complaint; unless you sense danger. A grandparent that will laugh with them about a friend running out of gasoline or show interest in their sporting events and boy-girl relationships, may win a listening ear in days to come.
Too sad for God
Thirdly, some of our teen grands are hurting. They may have gone through a parental divorce, or even ours–as grandparents. They may have lost a friend or be struggling in school.
During the teen years, our more introspective grands may start to notice the injustices of the world around them. Why is there starvation, disease, natural disasters, corruption in government, unemployment, and terrorism?
These delicate souls want answers. And many times there are none. At others, the answers are too hard for their understanding and acceptance.
They ask, “If there’s a God…?” And “If God is so loving…why?” And they resort to the confines of their bedrooms with nothing but their own thoughts for company.
We can carefully listen to their perspective and if allowed, pray with them asking God to comfort them at a time when things are so uncertain.
Too rebellious for God
Fourth, our upper-teen grands may have forged their own path already and aren’t interested in stepping back into “out-dated” methods of life and belief.
They may experiment with hairstyles, manners of dressing, jewelry, and designer accessories. Or may try drugs, alcohol, alternative lifestyles and run with the wrong crowd.
They may put themselves in harm’s way on a regular basis and keep us on our knees in prayer. However, they are still our grandchildren and we want to keep the doors open, for a future time, when hopefully they return to their roots.
Too stressed out for God
Next, Is one of our most over-looked teens–the one under great pressure to perform. This is the good kid that is well-liked and seems to excel at everything. But, inside they’re ready to break.
As grandparents, we can be that person or couple in their lives that gives them the leeway to relax.
When this grandchild comes to our home, we can serve his or her favorite meal and help them lighten up with laughter.
Often times, a child that strives for perfection sees God as a tyrant, waiting to point out each mistake and failure. We can offer this grand a scripture that encourages about God’s compassion and gentleness and ask to pray for him or her for adequate rest and peace.
Too distracted for God
Another disconnect with faith comes when our teen grands are full-speed-ahead in a serious relationship or in college. Their lives are full of hopes and dreams and they’re too busy to fully participate in Bible study or church attendance.
These grands may not have a negative attitude toward God but want to put him off for awhile.
They may listen kindly to the Christian music, playing in your home, and attend a Christmas or Easter service. However, it’s more about their relationship with you than a personal connection of faith.
That being as it may, go with it. There may come a day when all those little reminders from grandma or grandpa pays off in the lives of our distracted grandchildren.
Keeping connected as you wait
Furthermore, I believe we need to stay buddies. If our grandson or daughter asks us to a football game. We need to go. And we should realize that the invitation alone speaks of our relationship.
If it’s time for that first car, we can go along to share the experience. And if it’s time for the prom, we can help shop for the dress or perhaps lend a piece of vintage jewelry.
Anything that speaks of our love also speaks of God’s. We may not approve of the things our grands are into. They may frighten and alarm or cause dismay. But if we keep the love channels flowing, we may someday get the audience we desire.
When God makes sense
If, and hopefully when, the times comes when our teenage grandchildren come around to matters of faith, they may no longer be teenagers.
And for us, and possibly their parents, it was a wild ride of heartache and pain. For years.
However, we supported with ongoing communication, displays of love and faithfulness and refrained from lectures and preaching. Most of us have heard the testimonies of “prodigal sons and daughters” turned faithful followers of God’s word.
So many give credit to their grandmas who wouldn’t stop praying.
Remembering our own journey
Finally, while watching our teenage grandkids struggle, rebel and reject the things we’d love for them to embrace, we can remember our own paths to God.
How many times did we choose a direction contrary to what our parents attempted to instill? How many years did they patiently wait?
If you have a teenage grandchild that keeps you on your knees, take courage and know that the same God that tapped you on the shoulder is fully aware.