I don’t know what is more beautiful – holding your new grandbaby or watching your children become parents. The sweetness of a new little life and the over-tired commitment of young parents in love with their baby are some of the best things life has to offer. With new parents able to get answers to their questions 24/7, what role does the grandparent play? We’re no longer the go-to experts for the practical, everyday concerns that we turned to our parents for. Instead they connect to experts and peers to get answers in seconds.
But maybe by getting out of these routine conversations, it opens up a new space that no other generation of grandparents has ever enjoyed. Maybe by letting others address burping techniques, we have an opportunity to accompany our children in significant areas of life that grandparents are uniquely positioned to tend. These three overlapping circles of life that make up our family core values include:
- The circle of core beliefs. What is most important in our life? It’s been said that we can tell what matters to a person by looking at his or her calendar and checkbook. While I can see the truth in this, I hope that I’m living a life where my beliefs are more public than that. Research proves that our children turn out a lot more like us than we think they will, so we can actually look at our adult children to see what they caught from us. We can make adjustments in our current lives if we wish they had learned a different life-lesson by watching us. It’s never too late to clarify our own beliefs and reflect them out in our families and the world.
- The circle of family convictions. What do we stand for as a family? At the end of the day, there are a few things I pray my children know we value highly. Things like showing up when we need each other, trusting each other to tell the truth even when it’s hard to hear, thinking critically together about pretty much anything but especially about the intersection between faith and values, etc. We are famous for cooking together then sitting around the dinner table solving the world’s problems. What do your adult children know about your convictions?
- The circle of faith practices. How do we practice our faith as a family? I’m pretty sure our children don’t all pray before every meal but they definitely know how because we’ve practiced this their whole lives. And as our family grows, we continue to add new practices like the annual Christmas letter I write to the grandchildren or the journal we just started for our youngest grandson who lives across the country. No doubt there will be more. As life evolves, our faith practices must too.
All this calls us to articulate our own values in new and different ways. The good news is that I don’t have to do this alone. Some of my best thinking partners are my peers in a Covenant Group, called Following the Way, who are wrestling together with how to follow Jesus.
I don’t know about you, but if I have to choose between passing on family values or giving advice on diaper rash, I say, “Thank you, Internet!”