5 Important Rules Grandparents Should Always Follow
By Anne Peterson, Crosswalk.com
I’ll always remember when it was my turn to hold my first grandchild. Jude, the one who made me a grandma. Tears welled up in my wide-open eyes. Tears of joy. This was something special, something I wanted to do right. So I made up my mind, I would always be grateful.
I also decided that I would abide by the rules set by their parents. In that way, I would be honoring my son and daughter-in-law. In Exodus 20:12, God tells us to honor our fathers and our mothers. And I feel I am demonstrating to my grandchildren what honoring someone looks like when I abide closely to the rules their parents have lovingly set out for them.
1. Follow their rules about bedtime
Bedtime is an important rule. Children need even more than 8 hours of sleep.
When I tuck my grandchildren in when they were little, I loved praying with them. Then I’d tell them how much I loved them and they would reciprocate. One time, Charlie told me, “I love you all the way to the galaxy and back.” It was then Jude’s turn. He said, “I love you, I’m just too tired to tell you how much.”
Bedtime is a special opportunity to connect to your grandkids and make them feel safe and loved. But it’s essential for them, and for their parents’ sanity, that you are disciplined in getting them to bed on time.
For nap time, it’s a given. They will have a nap.
When our grandkids got older, we found it was helpful for them to just lie down for maybe an hour or so. The big kids could read. Rest is necessary.
In Psalms 23:1-2, David talks about how God is our shepherd and he makes us lie down in green pastures. Everyone needs rest. Even these little sheep we are entrusted with. Rest is also good for us grown-ups. It gives us a chance to catch our breath, so we can give our best care.
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2. Follow their rules about snacks
“Grandma, can I have a gummy?” is a question often heard at our house. A covered clear container sits on my counter with different gummy shapes. The color, the texture, the taste--I know they like them. And when they ask me, and I say yes, they have to ask,“How many?”
I’ll answer, “one…two…or three.” But I also might say, “Not now, we’re going to have lunch.”
My house is not loaded with snacks because my grandchildren eat generally healthy. Oh there are times, but I found too many snacks can rev the kids up. And with four of them, my house gets pretty loud. So following this rule is for me, too.
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3. Follow their rules about screen time
My grandkids used to be allowed a half hour of screen time when they came to Grandma’s house. A few times it was more, but now, there is no screen time here, with the exception of watching a special movie.
I have read enough articles to see the value in limiting screen time, so I appreciate that this is what their mother wants for them.
In addition, I noticed something happening when my two grandsons would finish playing on their Gameboy: Things they would have normally played prior to the screen time seemed less interesting and they sometimes seemed antsy. It was an easy decision to stop screen time or video games over at my house because both their mother and I felt interactive times were better.
Besides that, I realized when they were behind a screen, it didn’t even feel like they were even here. So what would the older two do, since they were approaching 11 and 12? Music. We purchased a keyboard and an electronic drum set in our music room. And the best part? They come with headphones.
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4. Follow their rules about time-outs
Discipline is hard for children to understand. But in Hebrews 12:11 God says the benefits are the harvest it will produce in those who are trained by it. I remember the first time I had to put Jude or Charlie in time out. I got smart and simply set the timer. They needed to sit there for maybe 4 or 5 minutes.
The minutes were determined by their age and of course the crime. Afterwards I would ask them if they knew what they had done. And then they would apologize for their behavior. Or sometimes they had to apologize to the one they hurt. The injured party would then get a chance to say, “I forgive you.” And they’d hug. My heart would be warmed every time. Some days I had a pretty warmed heart.
Learning to forgive is important. Read Ephesians 4:32. Not only does God instruct us to forgive, he tells us how. Our forgiveness is not to be based on the crime, or how sorry the person is. We forgive because we’ve been forgiven. And since it’s sometimes hard to forgive someone it really helps to be reminded that we did not deserve forgiveness either.
Remaining firm in discipline helps teach your grandchildren many important lessons like this.
The other day Benjamin, who is 2, was put in time out. Benjamin’s going through a phase where he says, “okay,” to just about everything. He sat there smiling in his time out, for his long two minutes. After he reiterated what he had done wrong, he apologized and then I told him he could get up. And in Benjamin fashion he said, “okay,” and he jumped down to resume his fun life.
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5. Follow their rules about homework
My grandchildren are readers. You will often find Charlie behind a book for hours. He just opens the book and climbs inside, oblivious to anything else happening around him. When reading is an assignment, sometimes it’s not as much fun.
Recently Jude had to read Oliver Twist, which is about 500 pages. He quickly realized he was not a big fan. I tried to encourage him to motivate himself. And even though he could have chosen to read another book, he didn’t want to lose the credit for getting through over a hundred pages.
Read Proverbs 22:6. Training a child to do things they don’t want to do, gets them ready to face responsibilities they will encounter in life. Homework time is not fun, but this is a good rule to learn.
It’s also valuable to get them in the habit of doing things they don’t want to do. One day it will be for intrinsic reasons, but for now, it’s okay to give extrinsic rewards, just something to look forward to. Like playing a game when they are done, or maybe something as small as a few gummy bears.
If your children have an expectation that homework will be done by the time the grandkids get picked up again, it’s important to follow through. This will teach your grandkids discipline and also save a lot of stress for your children later that night.
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Following your children's rules shows them honor
I’ve never thought spoiling my grandchildren was a right, nor was buying them something their parents wouldn’t want them to have. Why would I want to set myself against their parents? I love Heather and my son, Nathan. What better way than to respect them.
Read Romans 12:10. Honoring the rules that Nathan and Heather have established shows I am honoring them. And the kids can also see that. After all, it’s true that values are caught, not taught.
I thank God for my grandchildren. My four here, and one waiting in heaven.
God loves children. Remember the story of Jesus when the children came up to him (Matthew 19:14). The disciples wanted to shoo them away, but Jesus loved them. In fact, he told the disciples the kingdom of heaven was like children. I like to picture my granddaughter, Livie, sitting with Jesus.
I’m so thankful for grandchildren. Aren’t you?
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A prayer for our grandchildren
Thank you for these children you have given our children. Lord, we laugh sometimes at the things they do, the things they say. But our hearts are full because of these children. Lord, give us wisdom. Help guide us as we share life with these gifts from you. And Lord, help us to honor our sons and daughters as we abide by the rules they have set for their children. Help us to see as we serve these little ones, it is another opportunity to serve you. And Lord, let these children grow up to be healthy and to learn to walk with you. We pray this in your Son’s precious and Holy name, Amen.
Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker and published author of 14 books including three children’s books: Emma’s Wish,The Crooked House and Lulu’s Lunch.One of her favorite titles is Grandma. To connect with Anne, visit her at www.annepeterson.com, and click on free eBooks to get her newsletter and to choose one of her free eBooks. You can also connect to her at her Facebook Page.
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