Becoming a grandparent can be a wonderful moment in your life. The birth of your own child was amazing, but welcoming a new generation into the family can be almost overwhelming. For us it was a mixture of joy, awe and an awareness of being old enough for our “child” to have a child of their own; a recognition that they were adults too!
A grandchild brings great joy, especially once they start smiling, talking and toddling about. But it is also a time when we can pray for them and their parents. As grandparents we want the very best for our grandchildren and what can be more important than praying for them and their parents each day.
As a Catholic we have a role in passing on our Faith. I am not talking about major practices, but the little things we do daily, probably without truly thinking about as they are so much a part of who we are as a person. For example, the sign of the cross and prayers before and after a meal, always having one’s rosary beads to hand – often beside where you sit. Little things such as these can provoke questions in our grandchildren which we can explain simply according to their age.
Advent is a great time to explain about Jesus by having a Crib on display that can be played with as you talk about the birth of Jesus, or religious Advent Calendars which also focus on the Nativity. Also, having Christmas story books around, or giving them as an Advent present is a great way to open the children to the reason for Christmas. Making a Christingle together is another way. Likewise at Easter you could create together an Easter Garden and maybe let them take it home with them if that’s possible, and again using storybooks to help the child know more about Jesus. If our children are not practicing their faith they may feel unsure about what to say or do so always be gentle in approach, never judgemental.
If they are staying with you, it may be possible to take them with you to Church, even if it’s only your turn for the flower rota or cleaning as this building will provoke many questions from inquisitive young people. Lighting a candle and saying a prayer whilst there, is also something which encourages prayer and leads to further discourse. At Mass, many parishes offer children the Liturgy of the Word so if a grandchild comes with you, you could take them out or encourage them to go on their own, depending on their age.
No matter where they are, whether we see them often, rarely or sadly, in some cases never, it doesn’t mean that we are not thinking about them, so joining a group like the Grandparents Association can be a source of encouragement, prayer and companionship with other grandparents. Meetings happen for between 1 and 2 hours either fortnightly or monthly and can be held either in a church hall or in someone’s home on a rota basis.
Some groups try to meet up with their grandchildren as well in the school holidays and do fun things together, for example a picnic with games or a treasure hunt.
For more information about the Grandparent’s Association contact the Marriage and Family Life Coordinator.