Three powerful strategies for helping our grands understand God’s truth

Published on November 12, 2021

I (Shellie) imagine we’ve all heard teachings on how important it is to “think about what you’re thinking about.” 

If we’ve spent any time at all in church, we’ve heard more than a few sermons toward that end. I’m not here to knock those messages. On the contrary, I heartily endorse them! 

I’m thankful we more mature believers have been taught that the enemy likes to mess with our thoughts and how crucial it is for us to stand guard against his devices. And yes, I’ve got a grin on my face as I resist the urge to clarify that description. 

I’ll let each of us decide if the mature reference is speaking to our chronological age or our spiritual maturity. Instead, I’ll share my reason for bringing up our thought lives. 

Buried thoughts don’t stay buried

My concern is that we may have learned to recognize Satan’s attacks against us, but we’re slow to realize how early the enemy starts launching similar darts toward our precious grandchildren. 

My goal is to wake us up to his plans, Grandma, so we can combat them on our loved ones’ behalf. It’s far too easy for patterns of thinking and faulty perceptions to become ingrained in our grandchildren’s little minds, and once they’re established, they can follow them the rest of their lives. 

Buried thoughts are potent because they don’t stay buried. They influence decisions and become patterns of behavior. 

I’m reminded of a wise observation that’s been attributed to far too many brilliant people over the years to be able to name the author with any certainty—Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions.  Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny. 

Influence their thinking patterns

There’s so much truth in that progression that we could break down and learn from, but here’s the takeaway for our discussion. The wisdom of those words needs to be applied long before our grandkids are old enough to process it for themselves. 

This is where game-changing grandmas come in. 

We can play a valuable role in our grands’ mental development. We can help them learn to think healthy thoughts that will lead to healthy lives by teaching them how to recognize what they’re thinking about, resist the damaging cycles, and turn destructive thoughts in a more positive direction. 

No one decides to think. It’s automatic. But learning to think well is a skill that must be acquired. We have to learn how to take control of our thinking, and we can. 

This means our grands don’t have to grow up at the mercy of what’s going on between their ears. They don’t have to be subject to vicious cycles of thinking that limit their potential. 

But if we don’t teach them how to break such cycles, we leave them vulnerable to the wrong thoughts forming ruts in their minds. Our privilege is to poke a loving stick in that wheel by teaching them how to invite Jesus into their thoughts to heal and teach, to comfort and correct. 

3 powerful strategies for helping our grands see God’s truth 

1. Listen for clues. 

One way we can do this is by learning to listen for clues. Our grands reveal what’s going on in their heads by what comes out of their mouths (just like the rest of us). 

This means the grandson who says “I’m horrible at math” is already beginning to sabotage himself in that subject. He’s shutting down and hampering his own efforts to hone important and foundational math skills he’ll need in the next level of his education by listening to a damaging narrative. 

Sadly, if he thinks he can’t improve, he won’t.

2. Offer a healthy alternative to negative self-talk. 

Here’s another example. The child who slides into your backseat when you’re running carpool and announces that she “doesn’t have any friends” is a child who’s already learning to harbor a poor self- image. 

Even worse, she’s engaging in self-talk that will become self-fulfilling when she begins to withdraw into her own little bubble in public situations in a misguided effort to protect herself from even more disappointment. 

She needs confidence, but she won’t get it by believing that no one wants to be her friend. It hurts to hear our grandchildren express those types of sentiments, doesn’t it, Grandma? I understand. 

We’d like to respond by wrapping them up in big old hugs, smothering them with love, and giving them milk and cookies. (Oh, surely, I’m not the only one who wants to do that!) Of course, it’s okay to do all of those things. We need to be their loving grandmas, and there’s nothing wrong with fresh-baked cookies. 

I think cookie dough is downright therapeutic! But our grands also need us to recognize these moments so we can offer them a healthier alternative to the negative thoughts Satan would like to establish in their brains. 

Let’s see how we can apply the truth of God’s Word to the child who claims she can’t make friends. The Bible says, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24, nkjv). 

Those words can open up a great discussion with our grands about their growing social interactions. We can do this by reminding them that they have to be a friend to have a friend. 

Then we could discuss what that might look like for them. Unpacking what it means to be a friend can help them understand that one of the first ways they can change situations is by changing how they’re thinking about them. You can teach your grands that when they look away from their own needs and instead look for ways to help others, it always rebounds to them in the end! 

You can also underscore that truth by reminding your grands that other kids might be feeling just as lonely as they are. Can they try to befriend other children who are sitting alone at recess or lunch? They’ll have a better experience in school, and in every other area of their lives, if they begin looking for someone to include instead of waiting to be included.

3. Look for the lie. 

One of the most powerful strategies we can use in these situations is to look for the lie in what we hear our grands saying so we can tackle it with God’s truth. 

For instance, the child who is bemoaning his lack of math skills is saying that he can’t improve. He thinks he is destined to be a poor math student, but that is far from the truth. We can open the Bible and show him what God’s Word says about learning and knowledge. It’s not necessary to be a Bible scholar to find the appropriate Scripture, either. 

If you’re new to finding your way around God’s Word, you can type a question in a search engine and find help at your fingertips. 

For example, I just entered “knowledge” and “Bible” in the search bar and discovered this truth: “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge” (Proverbs 18:15). 

Using this verse, we can help our math-weary student replace the idea that he can’t improve with the truth that using his ears is the key to learning! The student who listens closer learns more. 

We can brainstorm with our student and find ways to hone those math skills. Some ideas might be doing puzzles and playing games together that require basic math skills. It could be using simple math in daily activities the two of you enjoy, including baking those aforementioned cookies together and seeing how that cup of flour is made up of two halves. 

It’s an established fact that seeing concepts demonstrated helps us to retain them. Your grands’ teachers might have other suggestions that can help them improve. The point is to help the child reframe the problem he or she sees as hopeless into one that has a solution, even if it requires extra effort! 

Jesus is always near

Let’s teach them that Jesus is always near and that he is the best friend of all. Let’s use our experiences and teach our grands to invite Jesus, their best friend, into their thoughts early and often. 

Put this in language they can understand by asking them to try talking to Jesus when they’re thinking about something that makes them sad, or mad, or glad. Encourage them to tell Jesus how they are feeling, and they will soon discover for themselves how near he is.

Here’s a closing truth worthy of celebration. As attentive and caring as we might be, you and I won’t always know what our grands are thinking about, experiencing, or feeling. 

Take heart, Grandma! God does! If we ask, he’ll be faithful to show us how to support them and pray for them through all the seasons of their lives.

Taken from Rocking It Grand by Chrys Howard and Shellie Rushing Tomlinson. Copyright © 2021. Used by permission of Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries.  

Consider a few extra resources:

Three ways to strengthen the bond with your grandkids

Four truths about childhood for grandparents to embrace

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Chrys Howard and Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

Chrys Howard, the mother of Duck Dynasty’s, Korie Robertson, holds a degree in elementary education and spent ten years teaching children with learning differences. After teaching, she joined their family owned business, Howard Publishing, where she served as senior editor and Creative Director for twelve years.

Chrys, President and Founder of It’s a Mom Thing Ministries, hosted a weekly radio show and website by the same name for ten years. She has authored fourteen books, including the best-selling Hugs for Daughters and Motivationals for Moms, with over 1,000,000 books in print and has co-written two cookbooks and two children’s books with Kay Robertson as well as Strong and Kind and Duck Commander Devotionals for Kids with her daughter, Korie Robertson. Her most current book, Rockstar Grandparent, released in March 2019. Her lifestyle site, Rocking It Grand, with Shellie Tomlinson challenges grandparents to be all they can be to the next generation. Chrys is married to John Howard, has three grown children, fourteen grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. They live in West Monroe, LA.

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson is an author, speaker, Bible study teacher and podcast host known for saying “Life is hard when it’s good, and it’s always better when you’re laughing.” Shellie’s best-selling humor books Suck Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On and Sue Ellen’s Girl Ain’t Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy! led Jeff Foxworthy to call her work, “Laugh out loud funny!” Her non-fiction titles, Heart Wide Open and Finding Deep and Wide are helping countless believers experience a deeper relationship with Christ, and her cookbook Hungry is a Mighty Fine Sauce with its companion devotional Devotions for the Hungry Heart feeds her readers bodies and souls!

Shellie and her farming husband, Phil, live in Lake Providence, Louisiana. They have two married children and six grandchildren. With the help of those grands, Shellie spends her summers trying to wear out a pontoon boat on the lake behind their home, and her winters dreaming of warmer days. According to her beloved labs, Beaux and Hank, Shellie is not spending enough time scratching doggie ears, but she is always trying to do better in that department.

Read more about Chrys Howard and Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

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