Whenever my husband and I snatch a chunk of time to play with our three grandchildren, little miracles seem to occur.
My achy knee suddenly feels spry, and my worries of the day evaporate … even for hours afterwards. I’m convinced it’s a “God thing.”
I believe that God graced me with grandchildren for a reason.
Most especially, I feel called to actively love them and gently augment faith matters with them.
I heartily believe that weaving in touches of Catholic enrichment during unhurried time with grandchildren (no matter the age!) can strengthen their faith in a very special way.
Whether reading Bible stories, enjoying nature in a park, teaching a favorite prayer or stopping by a church for a quick visit, these sorts of simple activities can enhance a child’s spiritual formation in a pleasant yet impactful way, with the influence rippling well into the future.
While parents are certainly the primary influence on children, I believe that grandparents can be an impressive secondary influence.
I have learned, however, that my husband and I need to be protective of our special “Grammy and Grampy Ministry.” There is a lot of pressure on us to join a plethora of other ministries: teaching CCD, laundering altar linens, taking on a festival committee, etc.
I consider thoughtful and considerate time with my grandchildren to be one of my most important gifts I can give them.
Involved grandparents typically don’t get any certificates or awards, and no one claps for them at the end of Mass for the time they invest in their grandchildren; however, grandchildren can be affected in a deep and beautiful way by their grandparents’ presence.
In addition to helping pass on the faith, it’s interesting to note that research has found that grandparents who spent about one day a week with grandchildren actually have reduced chances of developing Alzheimer’s and depression.
And the grandchildren who have spent fun time with grandparents have lowered depression rates, too. An amazing added benefit, indeed!
Interaction is still beneficial and doable for both you and your grandchildren if you don’t live close to one another.
Reach out in ways that work for you: Visit when you can; send holy cards; call, text or give Facetime a try. You might have to ramp up your creativity a bit, but the effort is worth it.
Try not to feel left out! If inspiration hits, consider becoming a Catholic “foster grandparent” to a family member or child in the community.
You will be blessed, and the kids will, too!
Theresa Doyle-Nelson writes from Pipe Creek, Texas.