Guest Blogger Mark Gregston
Spend time with the wise and you will become wise,
but the friends of fools will suffer. (Proverbs 13:20 NCV)

Last week I introduced you to Mark Gregston, founder of Heartlight Ministries. Mark concludes today with his five steps (keys) for beginning the process of engaging and connecting relationships with your adolescent and older grandchildren. Last time Mark unpacked the first two steps: Show Interest, and Adapt to Their World. Now we turn attention to the final three keys to cultivating good relationships with your grandchildren.

Build Relationship

A real relationship takes an investment of time and effort. The key word is investment. The focus of that investment has to be the benefit of the grandchild, motivated out of love for that child.

Paul wrote to the Thessalonians and said, “We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too” (1 Thessalonians 2:8).

Teens are looking for genuineness, authenticity, and relationships that offer something more than only correction when they mess up. They desire someone who is frank, honest and isn’t afraid to speak the truth in love because they know the motivation comes from a deep empathy for their plight.

Create Connection

The connection I’m talking about is the next step in the relationship with your grandchild. It’s when communication, effort, and desire to spend time together become a two-way street. This is what you want to happen with your teenage grandchildren. It is more important than the message you have to share. It has to be cultivated…and watered…and fertilized…and allowed to grow.

So here are some things I’ve learned about connection with grandkids:

  • • Connection is more than just a relationship.
  • • Connection is not measured by the number of pictures of your grandchild you post.
  • • Connection is having the relationship that is measured by two-way communication.
  • • Connection is not an opportunity for correction.
  • • Connection is a mutual love for one another established because a grandparent determines to pour life and love into a child.

Invite Questions

When I initially show interest in any teen, including my grandkids, I do it by asking questions about his or her life, thoughts, and heart. It’s not the interrogating type, but types of questions that convey value.

I want them to start asking me questions. You’ll know you have a connection when your grandkids start asking you:

  • • Can you keep a secret?
  • • Can I tell you something?
  • • Hey, want to get together for dinner?
  • • Grandma, did you ever fall away from Jesus…I mean, just not get it sometimes?

As a grandparent, this is what you’ve been waiting for. It’s their invitation to you to speak the truth (however painful that may be) into their lives. Their questions will let you know there is a connection, and they want wisdom.

Over time, you’ll find that talking about the hard stuff and sharing the reality of the lessons you’ve learned will convey those rare qualities of good relationships called genuineness and authenticity—two items in high demand in today’s teen culture.

Known as the “Teen Whisperer,” Mark Gregston can be heard on his nationally award-winning radio program, Parenting Today’s Teens with Mark Gregston, as well as his new book, Leaving a Legacy of Hope: Offering Your Grandchildren What No One Else Can. Mark is the founder of Heartlight, a Christian residential counseling center for struggling teens for nearly 30 years.

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