Grandparents: The New Parent Ministry
Most of us are seeing grandparents raise students. It’s moved from a rare phenomenon to a new, common, everyday reality. While at times it can seem a little bit of a pain working with the grandparents instead of a parent, it actually is a great opportunity for us to go deep with students.
Grandparents vs. Biological Parents
We’ve got to remember that ministering to students who are being raised by grandparents is different than ministering to students being raised by their biological parents. These differences are subtle but they’re really important for us to know as youth workers.
Grandparents are different than parents in a few unique ways. (1) Grandparents don’t think they know everything. They have seen the ups and downs of being parents and know that they need help. (2) Grandparents tend to be open to somebody else impacting their student’s life; in fact, they welcome the help. (3) They also don’t have the energy to do all the things that students need them to do, including driving them to every activity and every practice.
“Grandparents tend to be open to somebody else impacting their student’s life; in fact, they welcome the help.”
How to Partner with Grandparents
Here are a few of the ideas that I have used while ministering to grandparents that are raising students.
1. Offer to help grandparents
Grandparents don’t have the energy for everything that students are doing. They care deeply about these kids, but they need help. This is an opportunity for us to minister to both the student and to the grandparents. Look for an adult in your youth ministry that has time and space to actually be a surrogate parent. By offering to help with some of the running around, we can have great time with the student and begin to build into their life spiritually. It may take time to find the right adult to take on such a task, but by finding this adult you may be able to rescue a family.
2. Give grandparents a break
Just like we do night out for mom and dad in our children’s ministry, giving our grandparents a break from always caring for the student can also be a huge ministry to them. It shows that we understand their situation and that we’re willing to step in and help. This is a great ministry of the church. Again, giving grandparents a break allows us special time with students and demonstrates to the grandparents that they are not alone.
“Giving grandparents a break allows us special time with students and demonstrates to the grandparents that they are not alone.”
3. Ask grandparents what they need
Often times our grandparents aren’t going to feel equipped to talk to students about what’s happening in areas like technology, sex, gay marriage, or other important topics. Offer to step in and ask grandparents how you might work with a student in these special areas. This will be a huge relief for them, and it will demonstrate that the youth ministry is in it with them.
I’ve noticed that a lot of youth workers are confused about serving students that are being raised by grandparents. It takes a special amount of service on our part to minister to these students. It’s not easy but there is a golden opportunity for us to go deep into students’ lives because we’re going to get a lot more time with them.
Let’s not look at it like it’s impossible. Let’s look at it as an opportunity and come alongside these grandparents and do great ministry with them. The church is design for this!
About the Author
Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners who never leave their side. Doug grew up in… Read More