To a culture increasingly entertained (or disgusted) by its own superficiality, the role of grandparents as spiritual guides seems like a good use of one’s later years. Who better to draw young family members into deeper life issues than their most credible, experienced elders?
Grandparents can find simple guidelines from Rabbi Edythe Mencher. I’m quoting her, but personalizing it for grandparents. She writes, “The earlier we facilitate [a child’s spirituality] the better prepared the child will be, now and in later life, to turn to God for assurance, comfort and understanding.”
Tip: Confront your own misgivings. You don’t have to resolve all your doubts in order to talk to your grandchildren about God.
Each of us can come to a unique knowledge of God just as our ancestors did. It’s the struggle to find God that counts and we should not shy from it.
God is the lover of the human race… our aim is to emphasize that the relationship between God and God’s creations is one of love. More important than the love of God is the child’s awareness of it.
Tip: Learn to interpret questions your grandchild asks about God before replying or changing the subject.
Don’t impose pat answers. Allow children to take their own journey of discovery by expressing their ideas freely. Make sure you are listening carefully to their questions– they may not be asking what you initially think they are asking, and it’s important not to answer what they’re not asking. They’ll feel missed in the conversation. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
Tip: Share your own wonderings about God and the universe.
Include God in everyday play activities. Acknowledge God’s place in our day by day reality. One way to do this is to notice when a person’s conduct resembles God’s action as it is manifested in the world and in life. Human beings are [created in God’s image]….They are godlike when they act with decency and compassion or when they… still forgive the flaws of humanity.
Tip: Help your grandchild develop trust through your loving care, supported by your faith.
The biblical term for faith designates an attitude of trust between humanity and God. To have faith… is to “entrust” oneself to God and to feel secure in this trust. The believer, as Shalom Ben Chorin put it, ‘does not believe in God; he or she believes God…’ expressing trust that the living God is near us….”
See Rabbi Mencher’s complete article here.
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