Round, pink checks, sprinkled with little dusts of flour, checkered aprons, a soft, tingling laugh, comfortable laps, and huge hearts of love. That’s what we visualize grandmothers to be, but that picture is not always correct. Grandmothers come in all sizes, occupations, and desires. Some feel panic when they learn the news, while others go into a state of denial. They just are not ready for their mental picture of a grandmother to become a reality for them!
At times, the grandmother is reluctant because of the situation. It may be the age of the mother, the relationship between the father and mother, the relationship between the grandmother and the mother/father, financial issues, or health issues. The women’s minister can help by being available. Our willingness to listen, encourage, and recommend resources and professionals who can help, will be much appreciated.
What can a women’s ministry leader do to help reluctant grandmothers adjust?
- Spend time chatting with the expectant grandmother. Listen to her fears and give reassurance that she can create her own version of what a grandmother is.
- Remind her that the grandmother “should do’s” of the past do not have to become her reality. What grandmothers “should” do or “should” be are not unbreakable laws! Grandchildren are all unique and need their own kind of grandmothers!
- Introduce her to other grandmothers who were reluctant. Encourage them to share their stories.
- Remind her that being a grandmother does not mean she is old!
- Point her to the Word. Grandmothers have a role to play in the life of a child. Just as the children of Israel were told to teach their children and future generations God’s commands, we are to invest into the lives of our grandchildren by sharing Jesus and the Word (Deut. 6). The command in Titus 2 to teach the younger women applies to grandmothers!
Women’s leaders need to be aware of other groups of struggling women: the women who are experiencing the grief of not becoming grandmothers. This includes the women whose children are struggling with infertility, have suffered miscarriages, or had abortions. Sensitivity and compassion are crucial to ministering to this group of women.
- Validate the grief these women are experiencing.
- Recommend grief support groups.
- Pray for comfort.
Ministering to moms includes ministering to grandmothers, too. Remember that each woman, whether she’s a grandmother or not, is unique and has her own unique set of challenges. Love women where they are, encourage them with biblical understanding, and pray for them earnestly.
Dr. Deb Douglas is the minister to women at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA and a LifeWay Ministry Multiplier. Her passion is encouraging and equipping women to serve. She is also a freelance writer and contributed to Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level, Revised & Expanded. She is the wife of Paul, mom of Jared and Katie, mother-in-law to Emily and Jacob, and grandmother to Caroline and Lincoln.