Could you be a more courageous grandparent? Here’s 5 ways.

Let’s face it, grandparenting is not an inexact science. If you are one, it’s something you know only too well. No grandchild conforms to a stereotype. Each is a unique and precious individual.

So where can we find help on how we can bless our grandchildren with our lives, our resources and our time?

Enter stage right Cavin Harper with his helpful book ‘Courageous Grandparenting’. It’s overflowing with wisdom to help us make the best of our role – especially from a Christian perspective.

To give you a taster and encourage you to dig deeper, let me walk you through 5 of Cavin’s key subject areas. If you are a grandparent he wants you to have the courage to –

1. Wake up to your responsibility

You may well identify with Cavin’s realisation that ‘My life was changed the day my first grandchild arrived’. In that context he speaks about realising being a grandparent is both a privilege and a responsibility.

He writes, ‘That day I determined to make sure my grandchildren knew the (Bible) story. Even more I wanted to do all I could to make sure my generation of emerging grandparents understood what was at stake if we did not wake up to our responsibility’.

He believes grandparents have a duty to do everything they can to help their grandchildren find faith. As he puts it, ‘we talk, we pray and we act in any way which points our grandchildren to faith in Christ.’

2. Don’t be a maybe boomer

Cavin points out that today’s active grandparents are the Boomer generation – born in the years after the last world war and growing up as teens in the 60s. This makes them the youngest grandparents in western civilisation.

That means we are likely to be active ourselves – with part time or even full time work that is either paid or voluntary, energy and health equipping us for ‘adventures’ of our own. All of which can distract us from seeing grandparenting as we should.

Cavin challenges us about our willingness to be less involved with ‘doing our own thing, protecting our own portfolios and pursuing personal comfort rather than being a conduit of blessing for the next generation’.

3. Be an ally and not adversary

Cavin is convinced ‘successful grandparents know it is not just about their grandkids and them’. Rather, it’s about parents and grandparents being on the same team – ‘as allies, not adversaries’.

Read his book and you will find helpful guidance about how we develop good relationships across the three – maybe even four – generations. This includes his assertion that ‘Effective grand parenting is a more achievable goal if you can maintain, as much as is in your power to do so, a strong and healthy relationship with your grandchildren’s parents’.

4. Take time to understand

Cavin notes that as grandkids move from being kids to teens they have a culture very different from their grandparents. And that this extends well beyond the way they dress, the music they listen to and the way they spend their time.

He suggests we can be negative to their culture because it doesn’t fit our own norms. Even critiquing youth culture with our mature wisdom may not cut much ice. Rather, we should try to understand so as to know better what to do or say to our grandchildren.

The child’s main concern is not if it’s true but does it work for me, the writer points out and argues, ‘I am convinced no amount of reason or carefully crafted persuasion will engage the world and cause it to change. It is the incarnation of truth by people of unshakable faith that will open the door for the Holy Spirit to convict the world’.

5. Untangle the technology web

Perhaps like me you’ve seen a 12-year-old send a text at the speed of light with their eyes closed. This, and everything online, is their natural habitat. With some seeming to spend more time in front of a screen than they do sleeping.

As Cavin points out, for many of those who are two generations above them this is all in great contrast to ‘the way we did things’. But whether you are ‘tech-savvy’ or not, your grandchildren are. If all they experience from us is a negative attitude to the world they live in then the opportunity for effective dialogue will shut down’.

Cavin’s book has many helpful suggestions about engaging technology to our advantage. Step by step he works through ‘God is the creator of technology, ‘Technology is not inherently evil, and Technology can be used for good’.

As a grandparent of 7, this book opened my eyes to some of my own mistakes – leaving me wishing I’d read it 20 years ago. It also encouraged me to keep going and to try some things I haven’t yet tried.

Furthermore, Cavin Harper’s book made me realise I am not the only one who could do a little better in the grandparenting stakes. Which is why I hope many others will read this very engaging and helpful book ‘Courageous Grandparenting: Building a legacy worth outliving you’.

Think this might be helpful to others? Then please share using the simple links below. Thank you.

Dave Fenton:

Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.


  1. Sadly your comments hardly touch those who were teenagers in the austerity years – the 1940’s – when there was discipline, in the home, school, society as a whole. A form of National Service, not necessarily military, is required on the part of all in order to help families and society to hold and pull together.

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The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years"

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