Question: Dr. Dobson, I have seven grandchildren that I think are just wonderful, but I don’t know how to talk to them when we are together. It has been a long time since I was young. How can I engage these kids in conversation and draw them to me? What should I talk to them about?
Answer: Children love to talk about fun things and funny things. They love to play games and solve puzzles and look at pictures. When you interject yourself into their world at these and other points of interest, and if you aren’t cranky and demanding, they will open themselves to you. All you have to do is give them your time and attention. Then you won’t be able to keep them off your lap!
Now, concerning what you should talk about with your grandchildren: One of the most important contributions you can make is to teach them about your family’s early history, about the obstacles your family overcame and what has made their stories unique. Education consultant and author Cheri Fuller applied the lyrics of an old African song to this responsibility. It included this line: “When an old person dies, it’s as if a library burns down.” You are the “library” for your grandchildren, being able to connect them with their past. It is your obligation and privilege, I believe, to give them a sense of identity within the family.
My great-grandmother helped raise me during my early years. When I was just three or four years old, I remember her telling me stories about her life on the frontier. She told me how she would sit in her log cabin at night and hear the mountain lions come down from the hillside looking for the pigs. She would describe fascinating experiences that helped me understand how different life was then. The time we spent together bonded us to one another. The stories she told me then are still vivid in my memory. They helped open my mind to a love of history, a subject that still fascinates me to this day.
I suggest you gather your grandkids around and start telling them stories about your past—of your courtship with their grandmother, what she looked like, and why you fell in love with her. Then tell them how you came to a relationship with Jesus Christ and what that did for you. I think you’ll find your little ones will be eating out of your hand.