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Faith and Family Grandparents parenting children: Scripture offers encouragement to grandparents raising their grandchildrencomment (0)

January 16, 2014

By Kathy Steele


Almost 5 million children are being raised by their grandparents in the United States today. It is unlikely that any of these grandparents ever dreamed they would be raising their grandchildren. Raising grandchildren is challenging, especially as the grandparents enter a season of life in which they expected to have more time to focus on careers, hobbies or other interests. The Bible does not speak directly about grandparents raising grandchildren. However, there are some general principles that offer encouragement to grandparents who find themselves as parents once again.  

Principle 1

God is in control. You can trust God with whatever He allows to come into your life (Rom. 8:28).

Principle 2

Grandparents can call on God for strength to raise their grandchildren. 

The psalmist asks for God’s strength, even in old age, to share Him with the next generation (Ps. 71:18).

Principle 3

God expects family members to care for family members. James asserts that “True religion — accepted by God as pure and faultless — is to look after orphans (grandchildren) and widows in their distress” (James 1:27). 

Principle 4

Guard your heart from anger or resentment.

Whether your children abandoned their children, became addicted or made some other poor life choice that caused this situation, it is important that you do not allow your anger or resentment toward your child to affect how you respond to your grandchildren (Eph. 4:30–32). 

Principle 5

“The prayer of a righteous man (grandparent) is powerful and effective.” Through your prayers, you will have a powerful and effective impact on your grandchildren. Because they are living with you, you will be more aware of how you can pray for them and their development of godly character (James 5:16b).  

Principle 6

Our grandchildren will know God’s righteousness through our fear (obedience) of God. As you parent your grandchildren, you have the opportunity to set a spiritual example and leave a legacy of faith to the next generation, just as Lois passed the example of sincere faith onto her grandchild, Timothy (Ps. 103:17–18; Ps. 128:4–5; Prov. 13:22; 2 Tim. 1:5).

Principle 7

Our grandchildren may be protected from the total impact of the sin of their parents. Unhealthy patterns of their parents could be repeated in them. Scripture teaches the son does not share in the guilt of the father (Ez. 18:20). However, it is likely that one of the punishments of sin is that the children learn that behavior from their parents and will likely repeat it (for three to four generations). Perhaps this is one of the reasons God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin (Ex. 34:6–7; Num. 14:18). 

Principle 8

Teach your grandchildren all the wonderful things God has done in your life.

Grandparents have an opportunity to help the grandchildren know and understand all the wonderful things God has done in their lives. A large part of maintaining faith and passing faith onto following generations is through memorials of all God has done. Numerous times the Israelites were told to help the following generations to remember all He had done. (Esther 9:28; Ps. 48:12–13; Ps. 78:4, 6, 8; Ps. 79:13; Ps. 145:4–7; Dan. 4:34; Joel 1:3)

Principle 9

Grandchildren are a reward for us (our crown).

Proverbs 17:6 says that “Children’s children are a crown to the aged.” Grandchildren can be our crown. Take joy in the opportunity to love them, teach them about our wonderful Savior and rejoice in God’s work in their lives. 

Editor’s Note — Kathy Steele is associate professor of psychology and counseling and director of clinical training at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

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