The Power of We

By Shelly and Wesley Fryer
28 December 2008

This past Christmas our family was blessed by “the power of we.” No, we are not talking about a Nintendo “Wii” console game system. Rather, we are speaking of the power which grandparents and grandchildren, living life as connected, extended family members, have to love, to share, and to grow together.

Some of the writers of Psalms and Proverbs addressed the importance and role of grandparents in our families. Psalm 71:9 states, “Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone.” Proverbs 16:31 reads, “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.” Living as we do in the early twenty-first century, many of us are separated by space and time from our grandparents, or as grandparents ourselves we are separated from our grandchildren. While grandparents and grandchildren may not be able to be physically connected like extended families living under the same roof were in decades past, there are different ways grandparents can remain connected to grandchildren for mutual benefit.

Time is a finite commodity which we have to use and give each day, but which we can never get back. We can spend time, we can waste time, and we can invest our time. Time grandparents spend investing in the lives of their grandchildren is never wasted.

Time is often perceived differently for the very young and the very old. For grandparents, time may be passing by very quickly. For children (especially when waiting for Christmas to arrive) time can pass very slowly. The “power of we” for grandparents and grandchildren begins with TIME. Because of different perceptions of time, grandparents and grandchildren seem to have greater powers. These include:

1. The power to listen.
2. The power to love.
3. The power to experience joy together playing simple games.

Reading together and cuddling together, grandparents and grandchildren can exemplify the love, the peace, the joy, and the hope represented by the candles of the Advent wreath. Saying those three simple words, “I love you,” grandchildren and grandparents edify and build up each other in powerful ways which are likely to leave indelible marks upon the heart.

Grandparents are people of extraordinary importance in our lives. Yet unfortunately, many of us may underestimate how valuable they (or we) are to the present generation and to the generations to come. Where does a child’s perception of a “father’s love” or a “mother’s love” come from? Here in Oklahoma, we have more grandparents raising grandchildren than any other state in the U.S. In many cases, it is the grandparents who are the caregivers, responsible for the health, welfare, and ethical development of their children’s children.

If grandparents and grandchildren are geographically separated in your family, or you are a grandparent living apart from your grandchildren, new technologies can provide opportunities for interaction and sharing. The free software program Skype (www.skype.com) permits anyone to videoconference using a computer, a webcam, a microphone, and a high-speed Internet connection. These “video phone calls” are free to make if you already have the previously mentioned equipment: No “per minute” charges are assessed. In addition to video phone calls, the website “Grandparent Games” (www.grandparentgames.com) offers grandparents and young grandchildren a website to interact, play, and talk together online. The website Grandparents.com (www.grandparents.com) offers more helpful suggestions and resources for grandparents to use to better connect with children and grandchildren.

We live in fast-paced times, when family dinners together may be few and far between. Time seems to be in short supply, yet the truth is we all have twenty-four hours each day. How are we investing those heartbeats together? Over the past Christmas holidays, we watched our own grandparents invest their time with grandchildren in different ways, and the “payoff” for each was very positive. As we consider our resolutions for the new year, let’s resolve to learn from these examples of grandparents and grandchildren.

May our homes and families reflect the words of the prophet Zechariah (8:4-5) who wrote, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with cane in hand because of his age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.’”

[THIS POST WAS WRITTEN AS AN ARTICLE FOR THE MONTHLY NEWSLETTER OF OUR CHURCH IN EDMOND, OKLAHOMA. FEEL FREE TO COPY OR REPRINT THIS AS DESIRED.]