Being Grand Grandparents

With longer life expectancies, many adults today spend more years being grandparents than ever before. Grandchildren often enjoy a special relationship with their grandparents and look to them for stability, especially in a changing world. Whether grandparents live close or far away, there are many ways they can build a caring and loving relationship with grandchildren.

Grandparents can:

  • Be an anchor in a world of shifting values.

  • Nurture a sense of trust, responsibility, and dependability.

  • Provide emotional support.

  • Give grandchildren an appreciation of the past and a sense of history.

  • Be a powerful ally in helping children establish a value system.

  • Maintain a close relationship even when older children begin seeking independence.

  • Provide stability and love during difficult times.

Grandparents who live nearby can also:

  • Give grandchildren the gift of time, since they are often less involved in household and career pressures.

  • Help grandchildren succeed in school by asking questions or helping with homework.

  • Encourage reading by keeping good books, magazines, and reference materials on hand when grandchildren visit.

  • Teach grandchildren sports, skills, or hobbies.

  • Praise them often and sincerely without comparing them to others.

  • Impart a love of music and drama, and help grandchildren savor life through the arts.

Grandparents who live far away can:

  • Maintain correspondence through letters, postcards, holiday greeting cards, or e-mail.

  • Take pictures of important events and send them to the grandchildren.

  • Create a newsletter especially for grandchildren.

  • Encourage reading by sending books or stories. For younger children, record an audiocassette with you reading the story.

  • Share a recipe for something they will enjoy eating or preparing.

  • Write a story about ancestors they have never met and send it to them.

  • Plant a tree or a special plant in the garden to honor a grandchild, then take pictures of it as it grows.

Grandparents have many strengths and experiences they can call upon as they nurture grandchildren. Although not all grandparents can be closely involved with every grandchild, their love and concern adds an important dimension to the lives of extended family members. In today’s world, grandparents provide an anchor not only to families but to society as a whole.Bernice McCowin, Logan, Utah

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores

Singing with the “Tongue of Angels”

By the time I went on my mission, I was amazed at the number of scriptures, psalms, and hymns I had memorized due to my participation in ward and stake choirs. Because our stake sang the Messiah every year, for example, not only did I understand many difficult passages from Isaiah and other Old Testament prophets, I knew they were true.

Since that time I have either sung in, played for, or directed the ward choir whenever possible. Here are two suggestions for choir directors that I’ve learned from my own experiences:

  1. 1.

    Sing often. And remember, not every performance needs to be in sacrament meeting. Many ward choirs sing at firesides, ward Christmas parties, conferences, funerals, memorial services, community events, and care centers. Our choir will long remember the little gray-haired lady in the wheelchair at a local care center who alternately applauded and cried out, “Please come back, please come back,” between numbers. As the choir members sang, workers and visitors started gathering outside the door to feel the beautiful spirit that was present.

    The more you sing, the more needed your choir will feel. The more they feel needed, the more faithfully they will come.

  2. 2.

    Never use guilt. This dampens ward choir enthusiasm fast and drives away potential members. The best way to increase the size of your choir is to love people into the choir. Just as the Church personalizes the gospel by baptizing and teaching people individually, you will find participants by individually inviting, calling, and assuring ward members of the blessings that await them in the choir. In our ward, we have prayed members into the choir, we have prayed a song to beauty, and the Lord has heard our prayers (see D&C 19:38).Brad Thompson, Hughson Ward, Turlock California Stake

A Debt-Free Family

For decades prophets have warned us about incurring debt. To heed their counsel, we held a series of family home evenings, wherein we discussed with our children ways we could all change our spending habits.

For one lesson the children used pretend money to “pay” monthly bills. After paying priority expenses first, they soon saw that little money was left over, and no one wanted to sacrifice needs for short-lived pleasures. I knew this lesson had made an impact when one day our eight-year-old daughter approached us about buying something but changed her mind, saying, “Forget it; we can’t afford it.”

Using pieces of candy to represent money, I also taught a lesson about compound interest and its effect on debt. I started by offering my children jobs to earn three candies a day. Then I let them borrow more candy from me if they committed to pay me back the next day with three times what they had borrowed. We continued this activity for a month, and by the end they were hundreds of candies short. They soon realized it would take them a long time to earn enough candy to repay just one month of indulgence. A version of this activity could also be used to encourage savings and to show how interest accrued can help ensure financial stability.

For another lesson on debt, we made a “financial freedom meter”—a paper thermometer that we could color to chart our progress in paying off our credit card bill. We also brainstormed as a family to see how we could reduce the amount we spent on needs. We came up with a list of many options, including eating at home more and buying secondhand items. Since we felt it was important that I continue to be a stay-at-home mom, we decided together how to pay for our needs with my husband’s income.

In addition to our lessons and activities, we diligently prayed for Heavenly Father’s guidance. He has blessed us abundantly as we have strived to do our part in eliminating our family’s debt. We have been able to meet our goal of becoming debt free, and we love the peace of mind that brings. We look forward to building our savings to establish a better future for our family. I know from personal experience that the Lord helps those who earnestly follow the prophets’ counsel to achieve financial peace and freedom.Serena Kugath, Crest Haven Ward, Rexburg Idaho East Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth Whittaker