Integrating Grandparents Into the Family Team

We want to talk to you guys about how to think about involving grandparents. So you guys probably know Jeff and I are both really trying to be pursue what we see as the biblical blueprint for family as a multi-generational team on mission. So I want to think about that word multi-generational for a second, and talk about how critical it is to think deeply about the involvement of the previous generations in the lives of your children and in your life as a family.

And I want to say of course off the bat that this is unbelievably circumstantial. Everyone is in very different places. Some people are like, “Hell no, that’s not going to happen to my family.” And I get it. There are some times this is not going to happen for really good reasons. But for most of us, there’s opportunities to enfold the previous generation, if that’s uncles and aunts, if that’s grandparents, if that sisters and uncle, you know others that are a part of our extended family.

And this is just a really low value in our culture. We don’t really care that much about involving the extended family in our life as a family. And I think that this is odd biblically. Most people don’t know this, but there’s more verses in the Torah for example, about honoring your parents or how to handle upstream relation with your parents than there are about how to handle your children. This is a really big deal to God.

And you read a chapter like 1 Timothy 5 that goes into detail about what it means to care for your parents in their old age, for example, and widows in the church. And there’s something about this that just no longer resonates. I think because we have lost that blueprint. We don’t think about families as a multi-generational project. We think about it as a single generation. That’s why most of them don’t know the names of our great grandparents, for example. So if you want to build a multi-generational family, if you want to have a deep relationship with your children in the future, one of the most practical things you can do is just find ways to honor your parents and get the grandparents involved in the life of the family.

So, the first thing is just valuing at a high level. And so there’s one kind of tip I want to give about like how to think about that. But Jeff, how do you think about this topic?

Yeah, I think it’s really, really important. I think two things that stand out to me is one, you actually have to realize our insane obsession in our culture and wrong idea and idolatry I would say of how age works, or where the peak moments are in your life. I think in our culture, the peak moments, there’s pretty much two in regards to age, I would say. And it’s our addiction to youth and our obsession with youth. And we always just want to look younger, look younger, et cetera, et cetera. And when you start looking older, you need to look younger. So I would say the two peaks are kind of like collegy young adult stage. And then I would say the second peak that we really honor in our culture is like the 30 to 50 year old kind of CEO leader. The person who was actively at the peak of kind of the end or middle of their business life, professional life.

One of the lowest people we usually hold in high regard is they’re 80 they’re 90, they contribute nothing to society, but they lived a really awesome, beautiful life. They’re a drain on us, they’re a drain on the resources. Put them in a nursing home, right? To me, that whole paradigm of age and like that’s seriously, seriously wrong. I think it’s idolatrous and gets a little bit under the skin or under the level of what I just said of like we uphold youth so highly that we actually think aging and what comes with that wisdom, guidance, etc. Is wrong. And so I think we have to start there.

And then two, I think, just incorporate it. It’s really easy. I think it sounds bad, but just talk to your parents and tell them to tell you stories. Questions and stories will get the job done, right? And it’s as easy as that. Now unless you have a very guarded person or whatever. But even then, just keep talking. It’s not like it’s a onetime coffee meeting that you’ve never going to see this person again. Like they’re your family, you’ll see them forever until they die. So just keep asking questions and keep learning.

And particularly do that in front of the kids. Like, “Hey, tell me more about grandma. Tell me more about what you was like when you were a kid.” I had a fun idea, I don’t know if Alyssa’s down but, and I think also because they didn’t think it was that awesome. But I said, “Hey, one of the vacations in the next couple of years maybe when the kids are a little older so they totally remember is let’s go to like Colorado,” because that was a significant season for Alyssa’s parents of like, they lived there for a long time, Alyssa was actually born there. They didn’t move to Washington until they were three. Now mine, Alyssa stories is all Washington. Like Washington is our DNA. We grew up there, blah, blah, blah. Like that’s us.

But there was such a, a Colorado season in her parents’ before her that, I’m like, “It’d be fun to almost vacation with the itinerary being strictly like, let’s go around the town or the area or the state for seven days, and just point out to us where you had dinner, point out to us where your first date was. Point out to us where Alyssa was born.” Like stuff like that. And they were like, “No, those, those parts suck. I don’t want to vacation there. But it’s like an idea is like that, you know? So stuff like that matters.

Yeah, I love that. So, we don’t understand the purpose of 70s, 80s, 90s you know. Most people in our culture, we don’t think that they should still be alive. There’s not a great purpose. Their quality of life is going down. And you know, it’s important that as your quality of life descends, the meaning of your life is going up.

Yeah, the wisdom goes up.

In ancient cultures, yeah, this happened all the time. You look like Native American cultures did this really well. They really knew how to honor elders, and we just don’t know how to do that. So a lot of times what dads today have to think about with involving their parents and honoring them in that way is, you kind of have to set the table for that, like, you’re describing this trip to Colorado. Simple ways to do that.

They won’t do it.

Yeah, yeah. Because their culture has already told them they’re sort of useless.

Like you need to be quiet.

Yeah, or they should retire, or go somewhere and spend their money and stay away. And a lot of them even reinforced that saying, “I don’t want to be a burden to you.” You won’t see that value anywhere in the whole Bible. The Bible has an opposite value, which is take care of your parents. But a really basic thing to think about there is trying just involve them in conversations and ask for their wisdom. I mean we did this around political issues. We just sort of let it go. Like we didn’t agree with everything they said, but we were like, “Give us your wisdom.

We have Bible studies with our parents. Veteran’s Day, my dad and my father-in-law were both veterans, and so every veterans day we take them out and ask for them to share stories that they experienced when they were in the military. Things like that to just allow them to be sages. Because that’s the season of life they’re in. But the problem is that the only way that they’re going to get to experience that meaning in life is if you set it up and you release it. And it’s probably going to be resisted a little bit, often because we no longer know how to do that. But it’s not that hard to sort of ask some deep questions and just elicit some wisdom from the previous generation.

So good.

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