One of the privileges of reviewing books is reading outside of my current life stage. As a mother of teens and tweens, I’m unlikely to pick a grandparenting book off a shelf, but I have been richly blessed by this little offering by Larry E McCall.
There are treasures to mine here as you consider your relationship with your grandchildren. He has suffused the book with grace, bringing grandparents back again and again to Christ and the gospel
If you are a grandparent, there are treasures to mine here as you consider your relationship with your grandchildren. He has suffused the book with grace, bringing grandparents back again and again to Christ and the gospel, which calls us to live lives that honour God and to love our children and grandchildren faithfully:
This is a guidebook—a book designed to serve grandparents by guiding them in how to apply the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ministry of grandparenting. My objective in writing this book is to take the glorious truths of the gospel and apply them very specifically and practically to the ministry of grandparenting.
It is succinct, clear, gospel focused, loving and gentle, addressing numerous areas that Christian grandparents could be considering.
He challenges the current culture of “I’m too busy for time with grandkids” as well as the idea that once we get to a certain age we are entitled to more time to ourselves and not be so involved. He reminds grandparents that no matter how special they think their grandchild is, they are a sinner who needs saving: they need the gospel and they need prayer. Grandparents can have a key role in showing the love of God and his grace to their grandchildren.
McCall emphasises that grandparents need to honour their grandchildren’s parents (both their own children and their children-in-law). Ideally, this will mean talking with them about the level of involvement everyone wants and how to be helpful and supportive of each other. It may mean some grandparents try to heal wounds that exist with their own children, apologising for past mistakes. It could mean grandparents invest more time in their relationships with their adult children:
Don’t rush through your conversations with your child or child-in-law when you call, anxiously getting through the polite preliminaries so that you can talk to your grandchild.
Are our adult children hearing words of encouragement from us as they continue their own journey of parenting?
He encourages grandparents to be much more intentional: making their homes welcoming places for children, planning activities, following their lives and staying connected. Grandparents can reach out with meaningful conversations, affection, time and energy. They should consider what they are modelling: will their grandchildren conclude they care more about how their furniture is treated or that they are generous with their home and contents? Will they see that lots of money is spent on travel or that a lot is given away to people in need?
A detailed chapter helps grandparents consider how to pray for themselves: for their own hearts, understanding, wisdom, and perseverance; and to pray for their grandchildren and grandchildren’s parents. There are biblical suggestions to pray for salvation, heart change, character and godliness. There is great encouragement to pray with your grandchildren, whether in person or using technology.
A detailed chapter helps grandparents consider how to pray for themselves—and to pray for their grandchildren and grandchildren’s parents.
Some time is spent considering various challenges of grandparenting. There are practical suggestions for when grandparents are long distances away, including planning trips and holidays, as well as using available technology. He challenges some grandparents to consider moving closer to grandchildren. Other challenges he addresses are divorce (of their parents or you as a grandparent), remarriage, adoption, having to care for your grandchildren, and defiant relationships.
There is no reason to assume a standoffish posture toward newly gained grandchildren. God has not been standoffish with us, has he? He chose to move toward us, even when we were not moving toward him.
All of these are dealt with biblically, wisely and sensitively. He even challenges to those not in these situations:
If your own family has not experienced the situation of an absentee father or mother, is there a family in your community or church that could benefit from the involvement of a surrogate grandparent?
McCall finishes with a challenge to grandparents to consider their legacy.
As grandparents, we want to leave a legacy for our grandchildren—not just a legacy of money or things, but a legacy of faith, love, and dependence on Jesus.
Focussing on Titus 2, he encourages grandfathers and grandmothers to be mature men and women of God:
If we are going to leave a godly life-legacy for our grandchildren, we must continue to passionately pursue Christ and Christlikeness in daily life. Our lives will impact those of the coming generations. To some measure, our character, our priorities, and our perspectives on life and eternity will be reflected in them. May they see Christ in us!
This is a book soaked in the truths of the gospel, and applied wisely and biblically to the situation of grandparenting. There is also an appendix for grandparents who are not sure they really understand the gospel, inviting a personal response.
Any warnings? Some grandparents will find this hard reading. You may regret mistakes you may have made. You may be struggling with estranged family relationships. There is wisdom within for those whose children are unbelievers and for those who are out of touch with their grandchildren, but overall it assumes you are in contact, and in a position to model faith to your grandchildren.
What if (like me) you are the parent in the middle of this grandparenting arrangement? Perhaps you are thinking “great—the perfect gift for my parents this year!” If you have a strong relationship and share your faith, consider giving it to them—they will probably be encouraged. But if you want to force them into your perception of what a grandparent ‘should’ be, perhaps reconsider your motive. I know some grieve the lack of involvement of their parents in their children’s lives (or conversely, their over-involvement), but this book would unlikely be the way to address it.
Who should read it? Christian grandparents (and grandparents-to-be) who want to foster strong relationships with their children and grandchildren that are founded on the gospel of Christ. Highly recommended.
(I received an ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)