Hi, this is Jim Daly with Focus on the Family, and thank you so much for tuning in. Before we get started, I want to make you aware of a great event that's coming up, October 20th and 21st in Jacksonville, Florida. It's the Legacy Grandparenting Summit, and we have the man behind it all right with us today, Larry Fowler. Larry, thanks for joining us.
Good to be with you, Jim. Okay, what's the Legacy Grandparenting Summit all about? Well, it's the only national conference on Christian grandparenting. And to equip Christian grandparents to become more intentional in passing on their faith.
It is live in the Jacksonville, Florida area, but it's live streamed to about 110 churches across North America. That's fantastic. Why should grandparents participate in the summit, and what are they going to learn? Well, they're going to learn a lot about how to fulfill their biblical responsibility to be faith storytellers, to pass on the legacy to their grandchildren, and to see faith perpetuated in their families. I think it's all kind of capsulated in a wonderful and heartwarming story about someone named Tom.
What is Tom's story? He couldn't imagine, Jim, going to a conference and spending two days talking about grandparenting when he thought he was already a really good grandfather. But he would tell you that his whole perception of grandparenting was absolutely transformed in the first hour of the conference. He saw a kind of side to grandparenting that he had never considered.
They're wonderful, godly people. They never thought about grandparents and their biblical responsibility to be intentional and pass on faith. He would say it's absolutely transformed his perception of grandparenting. And, Jim, we've seen that happen with thousands of grandparents as they have participated in the conference.
And we want to encourage even more to be transformed by the message of intentional Christian grandparenting. That's Shelley Tomlinson. She's with us today on Focus on the Family along with her friend and co-author, Chris Howard. Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us.
I'm John Fuller. Thank you for joining us today on Focus on the Family. And while we're talking about being a grandparent with two grandmas, we also want the grandpas to hang in there because this content is going to be relative to you. And we want to help you in that journey as well. And let me welcome both of you to Focus on the Family. It's good to have you.
You're really fun. We've had a little banter already. I know this is going to be great.
It's going to be energetic. Now, as we've said, John and I, we're not grandparents yet in our little journey, but I hear it's pretty good. What's your favorite thing about being a grandparent? Favorite thing?
Chris, I'll let you go first. Ice cream. Favorite thing? Ice cream is always involved.
In our neck of the woods, ice cream and Chick-fil-A are always part of something. I mean, there was a time when my grandkids now, they range from 17 to 25. So I'm on the great grandkids stage now. I have five great grandkids. So there was a time when my entire minivan smelled like something like McDonald's or something.
It was just like so many things. But my favorite thing of being a grandparent is just watching them grow up and being able to pour into them and see the things that you pour into your grandchildren, like you did with your children actually come about and play out. And just recently, one of my granddaughters was away and she was in California.
We live in Louisiana. And just in the middle of the evening at 11 o'clock, I get a text saying, I miss you. So how precious is that, that I have developed a relationship with my 18-year-old granddaughter that when she's in California, she has even a thought about me. Because I think about them all the time, of course, but to know that I am part of their thinking and that they love and miss me no matter where they are. That is awesome.
That's got to be top of the list of favorite things. Mine are younger. So my oldest grandchild is 12 or 12 and a half. And then I have one that's one and a half. So I have six that range in those ages. And by the way, 12 and a half is actually 13.
Right. She probably would prefer I say 13. I'll just step up for her right now.
Speak for her. I think my favorite thing in this grandparenting journey has been that you're at a different place yourself. And so you interact with them differently than you did with your children. There's not quite as much expectation. And so you can engage in more conversation. There's not the nuts and bolts of parenting going on as much. And so you can really engage with them and see the world through their eyes because they're always seeing things that I wouldn't have recognized.
I wouldn't have noticed. I like that. No, that's good. I think, you know, I've said this before, but it's a funny line that grandparents and grandkids have a common enemy. The adult children. The adult people. My adult people come back to my house when the grands are there and they're coming to pick them up. And the grands will go, oh, and they're like, you know, want to go the other way. And the parents are thinking, well, thank you.
I'm glad you missed me. Everything's been fun and exciting. That might be a good place to ask that question, because that does create some tension with your adult children.
Right. And your daughter in law, your son in law, you know, they come to get the kids and they're kicking and screaming, got their heels dug in. They don't want to leave grandma and grandpa's house because it's been so much fun. And then, of course, you get the phone call, you know, grandma, grandpa.
Can you guys help us not be so fun? Don't give him so much sugar. I think as long as you're aware of where the parents lines are.
And Chris and I talk about this a lot. Like if the parents are they don't give their kids a lot of sugar, then you don't either. I think that's really you abide by their rules as much as you can. Of course, as grandparents, you know, you're going to fudge them on and enjoy the grands a little. But I really do try to respect if they say nap time, they need a nap, then you put them down for a nap. If you say sugar is a no no, then don't. And that that helps with that problem with the parents.
The fact that they dig in and want to stay with you. Oh, no, you're just happy about that. You're just like, sorry, buddy, but your kid loves me more than you.
This is my time. Yeah, I know. I'm OK here. You can take him kicking and screaming if you want to. Right. No, I know.
It's kind of that like stop don't stop thing with the grandchild where you're wanting them to stop crying for the parent. But you really like it. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Really are loving every minute of it.
Yeah. Chris, let me ask you your granddaughter, Sadie Robertson. That's Willy and Cory. Cory's your daughter. So Sadie's your granddaughter. And she's a delightful young lady. I mean, every every father who has a son about her age. That's the kind of daughter you hope your son will meet.
Just very bright, committed to the Lord. I've had many, many direct messages from people when Sadie was before she was married with. I really would love for my son to meet Sadie. Do you think she'll be in such and such town?
Oh, I know. People want me to set Sadie up and I'm like, I'm not even in that. No.
Yeah. You mentioned in the book, you travel to a speaking engagement with her and a young woman approached you. And she said something about being a grandparent that really grabbed your heart. What did she pray over you or say to you that got your attention? She did. She did for the first probably three years of dynasty when Sadie or three or four years when Sadie was asked to speak so much, developing her speaking skills. I was the natural one to travel with her.
Corey was busy filming and doing different things. So I was with Sadie at the speaking engagement and this young lady came up to me and said that she had been thinking and praying. And she just wanted me to know that what has been coming to her is that that my ceiling, our ceiling as grandparents will be the floor for our grandchildren to bloom and blossom and go and move and do and all that.
And I mean, that just touched me so much and still does. Yeah. When you look at that, I guess using that analogy of, you know, building upon your grandparents floor ceiling as your floor, which is a great way to look at things. What are those as a grandparent? What are those building materials that you're giving your grandchild to build on?
What are the timbers that they're going to be using? What are those things you're investing in as a grandparent? Right. That is that's what we think about so often what we want to pour into other grandparents for them to think about that. Think about those things.
What are those things? My husband and I started something when ours were little and I may have talked about this on the last show. And every time we would be on vacation, we make the kids sit down and we added to this principles for living or Howard legacy principles for living. We have 67 of them now that we and those are the things we wanted to build into our children.
And so, of course, now those are the things that we wanted to build into our grandchildren and our great grandchildren. And so how you go about those things may be a little bit different when you're the parent, the grandparent instead of the parent. You don't have all the responsibility all the time.
You do get to do a little more things. Things don't have to be quite as serious on some things. But still, there's a seriousness to it because God has gifted us with this role as grandparents. We talk a lot about the intentionality.
That's really big. And I think it speaks into what you're asking. If you're intentional as a grandparent of what it is that you're wanting to pass on, there are opportunities out during the day while you're with them to redirect their thinking toward what the word says, what God's word says about this. And it can be a natural way of including the principles that you're wanting to pass on to them in the conversation so that they know what's important to you. And you don't have to preach all day. It's just grandma really loves Jesus. And this is who she listens to. And this is who is guiding her life. And if they see that model, that life of faith before them, it's easier for them to come to that.
And you have to do that or we want you to do that with intentionality. Let me ask you this. As kids get older, maybe the teen years, if we could frame that time in life, they can tend to pull away a bit. There's so much pulling at them, electronics, friends, everything like that. How did you see those changes happening in your grandkids?
And what were the kind of the fixes to try to keep them engaged in the family? Well, I'll speak to that and then I'll say to Chris because hers are a little older. But I'll tell you what I'm doing like right now, because mine are kind of transitioning. And I see that happening. And then Chris can speak to as they get older.
So that 12 and I have a couple that are pushing 13. And so if that you have no you're no longer the center of their world. I mean, sadly, this is what begins to happen.
You know, grandma was everything when they were two. And now their world enlarges and it's full of friends and family and their own interest. And so you have to reach out to them more. And so I initiate you initiate and you do not expect them and you don't take offense if you're no longer the brightest star in their universe.
You know, it can be hard as grandparents because that was your baby. But if you realize that this is natural and it's good that you're no longer the you know, they're not orbiting around you. And so you reach out to them and you continue. I say in another place in the book, you talk about the things that don't matter as much so that the things that do you've already built a ground of communication parenting. So it's regardless what's going on, if you instill that, that just ability to have a conversation and talk to them about their life.
And you might be talking about a frog or the color of the sky. And it may seem inconsequential before they reach that age. But if you've built that communication in, then they start turning older and they'll trust you to talk about the things that are really important because you took the time to talk to them about the things that they felt were important when they were a little bitty. But now Chris has the older teenagers that the more experienced grandparents is what I hear you say.
Yes, I will say she's older and more experienced. And I remember it's funny, I remember I was on her radio show probably five years ago and she asked me how I dealt with teenage grands because hers were really little at that time. And I had the teenage grands. And really, Shelly is saying it right, you've built, you've laid that foundation when they were younger, just like a parent does.
You lay that foundation so that when they reach those teen years, those natural years, that they're going to gravitate away from you. And my joke in my family is when my kids, my grands get their license, I get traded in for a car. And so that's like I'm the one driving them around and going all then all of a sudden I'm not anymore.
And my 17 year old had an eye appointment this week where he had to have his eyes dilated. Oh, I picked him up and I said, just like old times, buddy. He got in the car with me until after we did that, we went to Chick-fil-A, you know. So it's just staying connected to them all the way through so that when they reach their teen years, they still want to be with you. They still, I mean, you're definitely way down the line of the girlfriend, boyfriends, friends at school and all that kind of stuff.
But you're still in the picture because you've built this relationship with them. And for me and Shelley both, both of us like to be involved even on other levels, like we both play tennis with our grandkids. We boat, ski, do those things. So any of those kinds of things that you can find, be active. Things that even, you know, my grandkids, we all have tennis tournaments, you know, the whole family. You know, tough times are part of life.
I mean, we are on the mountaintop sometimes and sometimes we're in the valleys. And in the book, you mentioned that. What are some ways we can teach our grandkids, not being their parents, obviously, but from the grandparent perspective to build resiliency, you know, to toughen up. So when those big blows come in life, you can manage them, whether they're eight or 18 or 28, whatever it's going to be. So I think the specific question is, how do grandparents play a role in toughening up the kids? I think a grandparent's role is different. You're not always privy to everything that's going on in their life because you're the grandparent. You're not living in the home with them.
You're not seeing all of it. And so for a grandparent, I think you always have to be mindful of that and keep the conversation. Like I asked mine, I check on them. I say, how is school going?
Know how school really going? Or friends in your life, you know, that kind of thing. And then just being super encouraging in the best way. I think I say another thing about grandparents. We're the best cheerleaders because sometimes it's up to mom and dad to kind of say the tougher things and up to grandparents to cheer them on. Even when mom and dad have had to say, you know what, that was a tough game. You didn't actually play your best. Grandma can come in and give the biggest hug and here's a bag of Cheetos and some water and you did great, buddy.
I love you. So it does change a little bit. I mean, we want we talk this all the time and we do shows on building resilient children. We think we have a responsibility with the grandkids, too, to help them see that.
One way that I have found to build that type of resilience is to really give my grandchildren a bigger picture, because many times they look at us and grandma looks like she didn't ever have these problems. And their parents didn't have these problems. But if they're involved in something that I can say to Grant, you know, I remember when your uncle Phillip was this age and he was playing ball. And sometimes he would have a game like this whenever nothing went right. And if you can liken that to the adults around them, that they they have not considered this yet, you know, and this is how Uncle Phillip would do it.
He would just decide. So you're not exactly now telling them what to do, but you're modeling for them. When Aunt Jessica had this problem or when your mom had this problem, she did this or we did this. And they began to see how they weathered the storm. And that helps them build resilience. Let's move to probably the most important aspect and heart thing for a grandparent and really those of faith, those that have a Christian faith, because that's what it's all about.
It's everything. So how do we help our grandchildren develop a faith in Christ that provides eternal life? I mean, that's what we believe, that we embrace Jesus and that's eternal life. It's spending eternity with him in heaven. That's awesome.
It is the whole ball of wax. For me, that is an ongoing dialogue is the bringing Jesus into the conversation. It's a language of faith that I speak with my grandchildren. We don't – I have something during the summer that I call grand camp, where I have all of them come to my house and we just act crazy. It's like very much what happens at Kegi's camp stays at Kegi's camp thing. You know, we just really – we play hard.
And these are eight and nine-year-olds. Yeah, we play hard, but we incorporate faith. I have it all woven all through the day. And we might have a devotional that morning, guys, that's really short, age-appropriate, 10 minutes or something, very short, and we'll talk about Jesus being the light of the world. But then I'm going to bring that out through the day. I'll bring questions to them and keep the conversation going about who Jesus is and different things that we're doing. I think where we miss this is when we only take our children to church and they do not see Jesus being a part of our life Monday through Saturday. And then we take them to church again. We do them a great disservice because now they're looking and they're saying, well, it doesn't appear to be a really important part of your life. I want them to have a different message.
I want them to see that, you know, Kegi lives and prays Jesus. There's something here. We're right near the end, but I do want to cover a couple things. One, you compare grandparents to superheroes.
I like that. So, A, I guess I'd like to know what superhero you identify with, and then, B, how does it work? Okay, this is just one day they had superhero day at school, and my granddaughter, Sadie, that we've already talked about, actually went as me. That was her.
That was great. It was so, I just was so amazed at that and just thought it was so precious. And then I got to thinking about the traits of a superhero, and for me, I think if I were to be one, I would have to say Wonder Woman because that's what I would want to be, and I want to do and accomplish so many things in life. And we were talking about this yesterday, how Sadie's so much like me, and that we just always have so many different things going in life, and I think Sadie saw that as she was in the sixth grade as a sixth grader. And so then I started kind of developing that theme for this book about what are the things that grandparents do that are like a superhero.
And so, you know, if you get the book, you can read all those things, but, you know, one of them is just I think superheroes are always out to do good. And that's what grandparents do. I mean, that is our focus in life is doing good.
We've lived it all. We've done a lot of things, and now what's left for us to do is to leave the good, leave that legacy of good with our family. And you both have talked about that building resiliency into the grandkids and, you know, observing the parents, your adult children's wishes when it comes to what they eat and how excited they get. Let me speak to that community of grandparents where they're not as connected. And right at the end here, you know, again, I want to remind everybody, we have Caring Christian Counselors.
You can call us to get more information. But I know people are listening where it's gone wrong. They're not connected appropriately with their adult children, perhaps. Therefore, they don't have access to the grandkids or, you know, there's just strife in the family.
And they're hearing this going, I wish I had that playful spirit, Chris, you know, what you just described, and having fun at granny camp. But my kids and I are somewhat estranged for whatever reason, and I don't have that kind of contact. What advice do you give that grandparent?
How do they begin to mend that bridge so they can experience one of the greatest blessings in life? I would just so encourage you. I would love to speak directly to that grandparent that's listening.
I'm almost emotional speaking to you because I feel your heart, and I know that it can be hard if you're not connected. But I want to promise you that the Lord wants that more than you do. He wants you to be connected with your family and with your kids and with your grandkids. And I would just so encourage you to partner with him, to just go to him in prayer and begin to ask him for a different relationship with your kids and with your grandkids.
And, you know, it's not just something cliche or something to say, but God does answer prayer, and he is listening. And so the very first thing I would say is pray. Pray about it. And then own up to what you have done.
Own your mess, the part of the relationship that's your mess. Own it because your kids need to hear that. That's humility. And that's the humility that the Lord can bless. And then just so many times we don't say vocally what we want, but vocalize that with your kids. You know, I've done – this is where I own what's gone wrong, but I want something different for your kids, and I want to be in their life. And I think those two things, that humility and honesty and partnering – oh, I can't count three things – and partnering with Jesus in their lives, I think that's where you begin. That's so good.
That's really it. I mean, Shelley, you did such a great job summarizing that, and my heart goes out to grandparents in that situation as well. And the only thing I guess would say it maybe just in a different way is do what you can do. The Bible tells us to do what we can do as much as it depends on us. So make sure you're doing what it depends on you to do to make the situation better. And sometimes as we get older and we get a little more stubborn in our old age and set in our ways, sometimes we need to have a little talk with ourself and say, no, wait a minute, I need to back up and do what I can do to make this situation better. And I would think that the grandchildren out there who are wanting you to be a part of their life want you to do that.
Yeah. And it's a challenge, but it's an amazing admonition you're giving, and that is to set – And so many times the grandchildren are the ones that mend a relationship with a child. They can be. They have to set your grievances aside and look at the bigger picture and say the grandkids are the big picture. And their relationship with Christ is the big picture.
And how can I play into that? So that's really good. Chris and Shelley, I mean, this has been fantastic. Thank you for such a strong reminder of the influence of grandparents in the lives of those grandkids and great-grandkids, Chris. And I so appreciate it. Thank you for being with us today. Thank you for having us. Enjoyed being here.
Yeah. Let me turn to the listener as well and just remind you that Focus on the Family, like I said a moment ago, is here for you. We have counselors who can help and talk with you. We have resources like Chris and Shelley's great book, and we want to get that into your hands. And I say this often, Jon, but partner with us in ministry. If you can become a monthly partner or a one-time gift, we'll send you a copy of the book as our way of saying thank you. And if you can't afford it, we are a Christian organization. We want you to have the content. We'll give it to you, and we'll trust others. We'll take care of the cost of that. So just get in touch with us and let us know that this will meet a need in your life. And that is what we're trying to do here at Focus.
Yeah, we're a phone call away. And, Jim, I remember not too long ago we had somebody call and make a donation. They said, I don't need that book, but here's $100 for at least three or four people to be able to get the book.
And they paid it forward. We're asking you to do that if you can. And if you're in a spot, as Jim said, where you can't afford to donate to the ministry, we understand. Just reach out to us. We're a phone call away, as I said, 800, the letter A in the word family.
Or click the link in the episode notes. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. We'll see you next time.
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