Studies have shown that the giving of gifts can develop and strengthen relationships. Evidence also indicates that gift-giving helps us feel a greater sense of happiness. In fact, neurologists suggest that our brains are wired to derive pleasure from giving.1 If all this is true, why then do so many grandparents find gift-giving to be such a source of frustration and contention? The struggle is real.
Just last week, I listened as once again a grandmother friend shared her pain in feeling that her gifts for her grandchildren paled in comparison to the expensive, extravagant gifts they received from their other grandparents. Her solution? Spend more money!
But is that the answer? A quick internet search showed that the average grandparent spends about $200 per child on holiday gifts. I don’t know about you, but with eleven grandchildren that is certainly out of my reach. Trying to out-do or even keep up with those numbers would certainly put me into gift-giving debt. It would also take every bit of fun right out of something that should bring me joy.
Rather than trying to impress our grandchildren or out-spend the other grandparents with money we don’t have, perhaps the answer is to gain a new perspective by clarifying our focus.
Why do we give gifts to our grandchildren, anyway? We give gifts to show our grandchildren that we love them. Gift giving expresses our feelings and communicates value. It builds connection and deepens our relationship. And we do this best when our gifts come from the heart not the wallet.
Consider these 10 gifts that you can naturally give:
Gift #1 – The Gift of Intentionality
“… and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:10)
If you want to give your grandchildren a gift from the heart, give them the gift of intentionality. Instead of simply letting the days happen to you, determine to make a difference for the sake of your grandchildren. Intentionality isn’t something you can buy in a quick over-the-counter exchange, it requires commitment, a plan, and diligent follow-through.
One of the most precious gifts of intentionality you can give to your grandchild is the gift of your presence. Make the effort and schedule a special outing, observe a weekly dinner, or call via Facetime.
However you decide to do it, be all there during your time together. Put away your phone, ask well-thought-out questions, and listen. Listen both for the spoken responses and what is unspoken.
Gift #2 – The Gift of an “I Get To” Attitude
“Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.” (Proverbs 17:6)
How many of us approach our grandparenting with an “I have to” attitude? “I have to” pick my grandson up from baseball practice. “I have to” watch the grandkids this weekend. “I have to” come up with a gift for my granddaughter’s birthday.
This attitude is certainly no gift for our grandkids.
Grandparenting is a gift to us from God. Let’s receive it that way, and in turn, offer a beautiful gift to our grandchildren. An “I Get To” attitude is loving, humble, considerate, and relationship building. It brings joy to the giver and the recipient.
Gift #3 – The Gift of Unconditional Love
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Grandparents can give their grandchildren the very precious gift of unconditional love. Wrap your grandchild in a love that does not fluctuate according to his or her words and actions. Not a fan of tattoos or piercings or “strange” hairstyles? Look beyond it and love your grandkid anyway.
Have a special needs grandchild, one who is defiant, or from an unwanted pregnancy? Offer them the gift of unconditional love by treating them as the image bearer of God that they are.
Rather than holding grudges and trying to “fix” people and situations, unconditional love offers forgiveness, even when unwise choices have been made.
Unconditional love is flexible and does not insist on its own way.
Gift #4 – The Gift of Intentional Talk
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)
Words are powerful, and in the hands of a grandparent, they can become a gift of incomparable value.
Think about it! You have so much to share with your grandkids. One of the ways you can use the gift of intentional talk is to help your grandchild get to know God.
Use your words to give testimony to the goodness and greatness of God, declare His power and His wonders, recount His mighty works, share the glory of His kingdom, and proclaim His attributes. Add to those words, your family God-stories. Dig into your family history and share how God has worked. Tell your own personal God-story.
Another very important way to give the gift of intentional talk is to use your words to build up your grandchild. Look for ways to speak words of appreciation, affirmation, and sincere praise, and speak them often. This one gift has the power to add life to your grandchildren while pointing them to Christ.
Gift #5 – The Gift of a Nourished Soul
“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.” (Deuteronomy 4:9)
The condition of our soul greatly impacts our “grandparenting.” It is a fact that we cannot give to our grandchildren what we, ourselves, do not have.
One of the greatest gifts a grandparent can give to their grandchildren is a soul that is nourished through time spent with God in Bible reading, prayer, and any of the other spiritual disciplines.
A nourished soul will be filled up to pour out and exude a love for God that is contagious to our grandchildren.
Gift #6 – The Gift of Prayer
“Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the night watches! Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your [grand]children, who faint for hunger at the head of every street.” (Lamentations 2:19)
Yes, other people can give the gift of prayer to your grandkids, but no one can give it in quite the same way!
The regular, consistent, specific prayers of a grandparent are one of the greatest investments that can ever be made – and with very little or no money involved. Consider, a grandparent’s prayers help God accomplish His purpose in and through the lives of grandchildren, can stop Satan’s schemes and powers toward grandchildren, and helps equip grandkids to stand fast in the faith.Additionally, one of the wonderful things about this gift is that it also blesses the giver abundantly.
When grandparents pray for their grandchildren, relationships are strengthened, generational and distance gaps are diminished, uncontrollable burdens are released to God, and we are drawn closer to God. A grandparent’s gift of prayer has eternal impact.
Gift #7 – The Gift of a Strong Marriage
“Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.” (Malachi 2:15)
A strong marriage is a treasure for your grandchildren. Prioritize it. Teach your grandkids what to look for in a spouse, how to love their spouse well, and how to fight for their marriage.
Let them see your playful moments and share openly with them about the difficult times. Don’t just preach it; live it, day in and day out. Model the marriage you pray they will one day have. Prioritize it and protect it.
The Bible teaches and research shows that divorce has a spiritual impact on children and increases the odds that they will walk away from Christ. A grandparent’s strong marriage is a gift of major impact.
Gift #8 – The Gift of a Gospel-Shaped Life
“To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:22-23)
Our grandkids are growing up in a culture of chaos and confusion. That fact scares us, sometimes to the point of anxiety, fear, and even hopelessness.
Instead of sitting by wringing our hands, we can offer them the gift of a Gospel-shaped life. For their sake, we can proclaim God as Creator, share the truth of the Bible with deliberation, and model the giving of honor and thanks to God.
Through the decisions we make, the way we spend our time, and the things we occupy ourselves with, we can be vessels that carry the Gospel to our grandchildren.
Gift #9 – The Gift of a Biblical Worldview
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:6-8)
Gift #9 goes hand-in-hand with the gift of a Gospel-shaped life. There is no denying that our grandkids are growing up in a post-Christian culture. Help them navigate the maze of opposition and competing belief systems by giving them the gift of a biblical worldview.
Root your grandchildren in the Bible. Read the Bible and engage in discussions about it with your grandchildren. Teach them the big picture of the Bible, the essentials of the Christian faith, and how to obey God’s commands.
Help them apply God’s truth to their lives and train them to defend their faith. It is a precious gift to see the world through the lens of the Bible.
Gift #10 – The Gift of Legacy
“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous. (Proverbs 13:22).
Every grandparent WILL leave a gift of legacy to their grandkids. The question is, “What will that legacy be?” Will it be a legacy of materialism, un-involvement, or self-absorption? Or, will it be one of investment, involvement, and connection?
The gifts we choose, and our reason for giving them, will help make the determination. To leave a legacy of deep love and care and support and encouragement, gifts for our grandchildren need to express our feelings and communicate great value. The gifts must come from the heart.