Sm grandparents sitting on bridge with grandkids copy

Four Ways to Prepare Your Younger Children for Adulthood

Intentionality, more than proximity, is the key to impacting our grandchildren and helping them grow in their thinking and understanding as they grow from childhood to adulthood. God gave us, parents and grandparents, the primary responsibility for that task. It is foolish to think they will figure it out on their own, or that we can wait till graduation to talk about it. 

From preschool on, we must use the moments we are with them to teach them about life and the Creator of that life. Every connection with them is a teaching opportunity. This isn’t about being fun-snuffers. It’s about intentionally making the most of natural opportunities to teach lessons they will carry throughout life. It’s learning to use the fun times and the not-so-fun times to teach what is true and matters both now and for eternity

Here are four ways to keep life the classroom for learning and cultivating a biblical worldview with preschool and grade school age grandchildren when you are with them:

#1 – Start Meaningful Conversations About Life 

There are three very significant opportunities for engaging your younger grandchildren with meaningful conversations about life. They are…

  • Playtime:As you do fun things with your grandchildren, stay alert to spontaneous opportunities to ask good questions that have the potential of turning play into learning. For example, if working on a puzzle together, you might ask: “Did you know that life is kind of like a puzzle? Can you imagine what puzzle pieces of your life need to all be in place if the picture is to be complete?  Why do you think God designed us like a puzzle?”
  • Mealtime:This is a great time to ask questions about things they did or something that happened during the day. Use questions to encourage them to think about what happened or how it could have been handled differently. For example: “Natalie, why did you handle Jenny’s unkind comments about you today the way you did? Would you do anything differently if it happened again?”
  • Bedtime:There are few more powerful moments for debriefing life experiences or asking them about things they may be wondering about than at bedtime. It’s also a good time to talk about the difference between a child and an adult. You might be surprised to learn what they understand, or questions they will raise. 

#2 – Encourage Growth-Producing Events

With so much emphasis upon sports and digital devices today, you can encourage your grandchildren to do things that shape them into productive citizens and neighbors. Here are a few ideas to prime the pump:

  • Involve them with you in serving others—like the local Rescue Mission, food bank or Habitat for Humanity.
  • Bake cookies together and take them to a shut in or someone in the hospital.
  • Take them to a theater play (choose carefully) or a concert hall to hear music they might not otherwise hear. Talk about what you experienced.
  • Visit museums and art galleries—what is art and what is its purpose?
  • Instead of watching TV, read a book or a Bible story together. Gwen recalls reading Jesus Loves Meover and over to her twin grandchildren when they were toddlers. At age four, without any coaching from her, one of them announced, “Gram, I have Jesus in my heart!” To which his twin declared, “So do I?”.
  • Take them fishing or teach them a craft skill. Talk about God’s role in what you’re doing as you are doing it.

#3 – Work at Being Critically Open-Minded 

Be careful about being drawn into thinking that you should always be ‘open-minded’ about anything culture says is okay. Open-minded is not the same as critically-minded. Today, open-minded often means accepting without evaluation or examination to determine if it’s true (right), or not?

Make sure you know the difference between being critical-minded and being judgmental. Critical thinkers value truth over public opinion, even at the risk of being accused of narrow-mindedness, but they do so with compassion and grace.

When your grandchildren say something you are unsure about, ask them to help you understand. If you know what they are saying is wrong, instead of lecturing, ask questions like these: “Why do you think this is true?” “Who told you it’s true? What if it’s not? Would you want to know?” “How do you think we can find out the truth?”

#4. Be Careful What You Say

Little ears are listening. If you would not want your grandchild to repeat what you say, don’t say it. We are human, and sometimes things come out of our mouths we wish didn’t. Are you adult enough to say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong saying what I did. Will you forgive me, and will you pray with me to do better?”

Impact requires intentionality. Children need our intentional commitment to train them in the way they should go, so they will grow to be mature, responsible and godly adults.

What are you doing to be intentional? Share with our readers some things you are doing.

Eye with world image

Does Worldview Matter to You?

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation…”
2 Corinthians 5:17

I have an 18-year old grandson with Asperger Syndrome. He’s a brilliant young man. He’s also fun to be around, and so gracious and teachable. He does an amazing job of making friends despite his social awkwardness and diminutive physical size. He has difficulty at times relating to his peers. Yet, one thing governs how he sees himself — a worldview shaped by the Gospel. Here’s how I know.

Dear God

His mother found a letter in his bedroom that he had written as a prayer at age sixteen. What he wrote then is still true for him now:

“Dear God, I don’t want to get confused as to what my identity is. I don’t want to think that I am nothing less than Your child, Creator of all things. I am a child of You, Lord, that is who I am. Likewise I don’t want to base my identity, my worth, on what other people think, but on what You think of me instead. And don’t let me forget how dependent I am on You either. This is who I, Corban B…., truly am. I’m a Child of God.”

Where did this come from? It came from a worldview he learned and embraced that gives him identity in the world in which he lives. He sees his world as one God created, and one we messed up. Yet, because of God’s grace, he knows he is child of the One who made him and loves him deeply. That’s his source of worth, identity and purpose.

That’s an expression of worldview. It matters to all of us. And I’m glad to know it still matters to him today.

A biblical, kingdom worldview provides the motivation for us, as believers, to engage the culture around us. Our world is shaped by a non-Christian worldview, which is why our worldview matters.

I believe because of his worldview, Corban (who’s name means “gift devoted to God”), will one be of those who will make a difference, and maybe God will use his ‘different-ness’ to make an impact in very powerful way.

Worldview is Not Optional

John Stonestreet, President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, says worldview is not optional. It’s human,” he writes. “It’s as much a part of being alive as breathing is. We don’t decide whether we’ll engage the culture. Just how.”

Grandparents, does worldview matter to you? Does the worldview rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ shape how you see the world and engage with people in your world? Does it compel you to teach and encourage your grandchildren to discern and courageously engage this world? We can’t afford to hide our heads in the sand and ignore what’s going on around us. Only those who hold up the light will dispel the darkness. That’s why Jesus called us to let our light shine. It must not be hidden, but held high for all to see.

Available Resources

There are a number of tools available to help you have the conversations with your grandchildren about worldview–which is really a conversation about how we view life. Here are a few I would recommend:

  1. A Practical Guide to Culture by John Stonestreet
  2. The Story of Reality; and Tactics by Gregory Koukl
  3. Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side; and Talking with Your Kids About God by Natasha Crain
  4. The Secret Battle of Ideas About God by Jeff Myers

Check the Gospel Shaped Family web site for additional resources for young children.

Also, check out these podcast episodes (Part One; Part Two) with John Stonestreet talking about the importance of worldview.