Brace yourself for a new era of grandparenting! Just as our parents didn’t know what to think of us baby boomers when we were going through our teen years, our kids are starting to wonder what to think of us now that we are becoming grandparents.

Cool grandparents

Gone are the stereotypes of musty houses and rocking chairs. Today’s grandparents are connected to Wi-Fi and listening to the Beatles on their iPods. Presently there are close to 70 million of us in the United States alone, with the average age of a first-time grandparent being 47.

We are the first wave of an aging remnant that managed to turn our country upside down when we were young. And as we’ve matured, we have made some major changes in how we live and handle challenges.

Heavy hearts

But many of us come to this new place in life with heavy hearts. We are grieved by a culture that adamantly opposes the morals we long to instill in our grandchildren. Add to this the fact that divorce looms in the rearview mirror of so many of today’s grandparents. And it’s not uncommon for our children to have gone through a divorce themselves. Single parents and blended families in so many homes make it difficult for us to know where we fit in. Being an effective grandparent today requires an extreme commitment.

In keeping with our baby boomer reputation, today’s grandparents are "extreme" in a good way. We are extremely engaged in the lives of our grandchildren. We are not satisfied to be occasional grandparents with our hands and hearts kept at a safe distance. Rather, we want to be conscientious as we create a heart-to-heart relationship with our grandchildren. We want to be hands-on.

Connecting with our grandchildren

With this enthusiasm, grandparents are prepared to go to extremes to connect to a generation that is different from the kids we raised. Inspired with love and purpose, today’s grandparents are willing to cross the cultural battlefields of music, fashion, technology and family fragmentation. And we want to do all of this as an ally and asset to the parents of our grandchildren.

Whether your grandkids are living across the country, around the corner or under your roof, you can have a tremendous spiritual impact by fulfilling two powerful roles.

  • Give a blessing. One role of extreme grandparents is to give each grandchild a strong sense of blessing. Just as Jacob blessed Joseph’s children (Genesis 48:16), we can impress upon our grandchildren an intrinsic level of value at a time when their culture (and sometimes their parents) measure them by strict and severe standards, such as how they do in school, sports and clubs. They need to know that regardless of how smart they are, how strong they are, how they look or how they perform, their grandparents think they are incredible. We cannot bless them too much; they need our affirmation and love.

  • Set a standard. Another key role we need to play in our grandchildren’s lives is to set a standard of moral living in an immoral world. The worldview that influences them embraces relativism, pluralism, multiculturalism and a general ignorance of Christian beliefs.

Help build character

In a world that thinks God gave Moses the Ten "Suggestions," we can be the "true north" for our grandchildren’s moral compass. Consider how you can help build character in the next generation:

  1. Contagious faith. Show them how to take God out of a box and make Him the focus of their life.

  2. Consistent integrity. Show them how to do the right thing even when no one is looking.

  3. Practical poise. Show them how to maintain balance in their relationships, passions and principles.

  4. Personal discipline.Show them the power of self-denial and self-control to achieve what they want.

  5. Steadfast endurance. Show them how to keep going when everyone is telling them to give up.

  6. Inspirational courage. Show them how to face down their fears and do the right thing regardless of the price.

We may be a generation of rock ‘n’ roll grandparents, but we have a chance to hand something extraordinary to this new generation of young people. Like so many of the other things we’ve done in our lives, we baby boomers will probably play our roles as grandparents to an extreme. But tempered by God’s grace, we have the capacity to be the most positively influential generation of grandparents.

© 2007 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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