Susan Gaddis and I share a heartbeat: we both long for parents and grandparents to truly understand their great influence in the spiritual lives of kids. It’s an honor to welcome Susan to my home-on-the-web today. Susan is a pastoral counselor, author, speaker, mom and grandma.
Doesn’t it just rip you up inside when your grown child shows no interest in the Lord?
Maybe you raised your kids in the faith, and maybe you didn’t.
Either way, your faith, the most important part of your life, is ignored—set aside as ancient history or labeled “Emergency Use Only.”
And you wonder where you missed it? What could you have done differently in raising this child?
And then there are the grandkids.
What about their faith journey? They aren’t being raised to know Jesus personally. And considering the world they’re growing up in, they NEED Christ!
Sometimes you question God’s promises.
Or wake up at 3:00 in the morning with scary thoughts running through your head concerning your grown kids and grandkids.
Hope has drained out of your soul, and you’re not sure how to get a refill.
You’re not alone.
Few kids raised in a Christian environment continue to follow Christ after leaving home for the grownup world. Varying statistics show anywhere from 70% to 88% percent don’t attend church after high school.
That’s scary, especially when one of those is YOUR child!
I know how you feel. I’ve raised six kids, and one is still out getting his testimony.
What makes it worse is that my husband and I are pastors! You’d think we’d know how to raise Christ followers.
I thought we did. But I was wrong. And I make no apology for it.
We did the best we could, and I know you did too.
So what’s a grandma and grandpa to do?
Quite a lot.
I’m going to give you some ideas to help you reignite hope and touch your grown children and grandchildren for the Lord.
3 ways to slip Jesus into the lives of your grown kids and grandkids:
1. Tell stories
Next time you find yourself snuggling on the couch with a few grandchildren or running an errand with them in the car, tell a funny childhood story about their parent—the parent that is your son or daughter.
Follow that up with one of your God stories. Maybe a time when the Lord answered a prayer you prayed for the parent of those grandkids—or a miracle God has done in your life.
Kids love hearing stories about their parents and grandparents, especially if the stories are funny.
Simple. Fun. Engaging.
When your grandchildren go home, and their parents ask, “What did you do at Grandmas,” guess what will be repeated back to the parent?
Both stories will get repeated. The funny one first. The God story second.
And quietly, gently, the Holy Spirit has an opportunity to move on both your grown child and your grandchildren.
2. Pray for your grown kids to become uncomfortable
None of us like to see our kids going through a difficult time. Yet, struggles are often a window for them to catch a glimpse of God.
It doesn’t matter how old a kid or grandkid is, being in a rough situation makes him or her more open to God.
A small child scrapes his knee and welcome’s Grandma’s kiss, bandage, and a prayer.
A grown son runs into business problems and is more open to Mom and Dad’s listening ear, encouragement, hugs, and their prayers. Especially if they ask what he would specifically like them to pray about.
3. Allow your grown child to sin
Don’t expect your unsaved kid, or prodigal, to act like a Christian. He’s not following the Lord. Why should he act like he is? He is going to do things that you don’t like and don’t approve of.
Even if he shows interest in Jesus, he isn’t going to act like Jesus any time soon. Transformation takes a lifetime, remember?
Your job is to love your child as Jesus loves him. God is so passionately in love with your son or daughter that He looks past the sin and smothers that kid with goodness and grace.
The goodness of God leads to repentance (Romans 2:4), and it is grace that teaches him to say no to sin (Titus 2:11-12).
Does that mean that God approves of the sin your kid embraces?
Of course not!
It just means He isn’t going to lecture your kid about it. And neither should you.
Your child knows your values. He knows about your faith in Christ.
What he needs most from you is to feel loved, valued, accepted, and respected. That’s what people felt around Jesus, even the worse of sinners.
Unless they were proud, religious people. Those kinds of people didn’t respond to Jesus like the rest of the sinners.
Let the uncomfortable situations in your child’s life, especially the circumstances that are a result of his choosing, do what they do best—reveal his sin to his own heart.
And if you’re not sure your kid is getting that message, pray that he will. But don’t lecture.
At some point, he’ll be looking for a Rescuer and a Savior. The Holy Spirit always makes sure there are those opportunities. That’s His job—to make Jesus known.
And the Holy Spirit often opens those opportunities at the weirdest times and in the most surprising ways. (In other words, don’t put all your eggs in the “I’ve got to get my kid to go to church” basket.)
And since you’ve done such a good job of representing the God who loves him unconditionally, he’ll know to seek out the Lord.
That’s when the Holy Spirit will nudge you to share the freedom found only in Christ. And your kid will hear with new ears because he knows, he really knows, that he needs help.
There you have it—three simple things you can do that the Holy Spirit can use to connect with your grown child.
Now… go out there and love your kid.
Susan Gaddis is a pastoral counselor, author, speaker, mom, and grandma, who gives women the down-home soul utensils + “recipes” to create an amazing legacy of faith. She is the founder of The Legacy Lounge, an online soul care spa, community center, and a library of courses you need for your being and the doing of your legacy of faith. You can find her hanging out at https://susangaddis.net/blog/