If you are a grandparent, do you ever struggle to get your grandchildren to talk with more than short responses? Do you really “get” them? Do they “get” you? Probably not fully anyway. That’s a generation gap. Yet we see in Psalm 33:11, “The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart from generation to generation.” That includes ALL generations.
We see throughout the Old Testament that, without Bibles, one generation TOLD the next what they’d seen and understood about God. Regarding Israel’s history, God’s people were instructed to “Tell your children about it, and let your children tell their children, and their children the next generation” (Joel 1:3).
Referencing God’s acts and mysteries, Psalm 78:4 says, “We will not hide them from their children, but will tell a future generation the praiseworthy acts of the Lord, his might, and the wondrous works he has performed.” (Take time to read verses 1-8.)
Psalm 71:18 says, “Even while I am old and gray, God, do not abandon me, while I proclaim your power to another generation, your strength to all who are to come.” Being a boomer, I plan to never get old, and you may never see my true hair color, but I know I am to impact those who come behind me as long as I breathe. You are too.
Connecting with Different Generations
At this stage of life, I want to connect with my fourteen Gen Z grandchildren and four Gen Alpha great grands. All of these came through one set of twins we parented! Our big family includes biological, steps, halves, and in-laws.
With this many, you would think I’d know how to start conversations with a grandchild. Even though I’ve got quite a tribe, I’ve learned the hard way how NOT to have conversations, including spiritual ones. And I’m still learning how to better connect with each of them individually.
We have three to four generations between us, and I don’t fully get them, nor do they get me. But my heart’s desire is to have deep conversations, to leave a spiritual legacy, and convey to them how much I love them and am interested in their daily lives.
Knowing most of my life is behind me and in searching for continued purpose in retirement, one place I’ve landed is to focus on leaving a strong spiritual legacy for my grands. I am still learning how to do this!
Listen more than you talk. My vocation includes teaching and public speaking, so I can be pretty wordy! Being a teacher by calling and spiritual gifting, I want everyone to know what God teaches me. So when it comes to my grandchildren, I can definitely go overboard in my attempts to help them go deeper spiritually, which can actually push them away—sometimes to the point of not really taking time to know them well individually.
I actually asked for input for this blog post from my grandchildren, and I have included their contributions. One thing that stood out to me that they shared is they think most grandparents are “perfect” and never struggled like they do! Perhaps we’ve not been willing to tell them stories of how we’ve failed. They need to hear those stories as well as what we’ve gotten right.
Consider taking your grands out individually on a date for lunch, coffee, chauffeuring them to work, or walking on a greenway. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide your heart to listen to what they talk about. Pray for open doors to discuss things that interest them as well as the deeper spiritual issues.
Try these conversation starters:
- What was the best thing that happened to you this past week? What was the worst?
- Tell me about your closest friend right now.
- What’s the scariest thing you have ever experienced?
- What is something you can teach me? (For instance, my granddaughter learned to put on lash extensions, so I asked her all about how she learned (You Tube of course!) and complemented her on what a great job she did. If I ever decide to try them, I know who to ask! We can learn much from those coming behind us.)
- What is something that interests you? Listen as they talk and discover their interests so you can connect with stories of your own. If they like to cook, share a recipe you learned from your mother. They do want to learn from you!
- When do you feel closest to Jesus?
- How can I pray for you?
Check out the free printable conversation starters we’ve created below. Simply print these pages, cut each card out, fold the card in half, and tape it together.
Stay in touch with your grandchildren through texting to let them know you are thinking about them, praying for them, and are interested in what they are up to. Even if you do not get a response, they will know!
What else would you add? Whatever they talk about, dig deeper into that topic. Ask clarifying questions and listen well. The most important thing my grands shared with me was to “actually care” about what is going on in their lives. They said they want to learn from us, and they want us to learn from them.
ABOUT CHRIS ADAMS
Chris Adams is an author, speaker, blogger, and women’s ministry consultant. She retired from Lifeway Christian Resources in 2017 after serving over twenty-two years as the women’s ministry specialist. Chris helped pioneer women’s ministry as we know it today and compiled three women’s leadership books: Women Reaching Women, Transformed Lives, and Women Reaching Women in Crisis.
Prior to her employment at Lifeway, she was the special ministries coordinator at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, overseeing women’s ministry and missions education.
When Chris is not consulting, speaking to women, or training women’s ministry leaders, you can
find her reading, being with family, or spending time at the beach. She married Pat in 1971, and they have twin daughters, two sons in law, seven grandchildren, seven bonus grands, and four great-grands.