Mike Shaughnessy, the author of The Strategic Grandparent and founder of Grandly was interviewed in late October on EWTN’s At Home with Jim and Joy. The following is an edited version of that interview. (If you would like to view the program, please click here.)
To read the previous article, “Grandly on Television Part 1”, click here
Joy: The Strategic Grandparent. How does the strategy unfold to them?
Mike: In my book and on our website, there are a lot of questions we try to answer. Many of the articles addressing those questions are written by grandparents who share how they dealt with particular situations. Other articles are written by our youth work staff. How does a thirteen-year-old think? What major decisions does an eighteen-year-old face? They explain how you use youth ministry techniques to get into a position where you have that role of trust…
Grandparents are already in an amazing position. For your grandchildren, you are one of the few people in their lives whose presence is not based solely on a specific job. My teacher, my coach, my dentist, my priest, my whomever. You are there because you are grandpa and grandma. You have a relationship. That is the key to youth ministry.
Jim: You might have to strengthen the relationship, but there is a natural relationship that’s there. … It just kind of comes out. They say, “You’re special. My mother has a special relationship with you and so I’m in on this.” Therefore, what you’re saying is, part of the strategy is just understanding what you have and that sometimes we don’t even know, as grandparents, what we have.
The strategic part is a little scary to hear. It sounds like it pertains to the military or something. Please unpack that angle a little bit. What do you mean by strategy? Doesn’t this just kind of flow?
Mike: A grandparent doesn’t need a lot of strategy at the beginning. You feed and burp and change diapers, etc., etc. But you should think strategically when your four-year-old grandchild comes to you and says, “Grandpa, why don’t cats bark like dogs?” And, “Why is the sky blue?” And why, why, why…? They’re at an age of wonder. It’s a perfect opportunity to say, “God made a wonderful world. What if the sky was brown instead of blue? But God made it blue for us.” It’s an opportunity not to answer a question scientifically; it’s an opportunity to pass on your faith, to pass on your faith to these children who are asking, really, questions of faith.
Part of what we’re trying to do with the word “strategy” is to assist grandparents with implementing it. If all you are is intentional – “I hope, I would like, I wish, I want, etc.”, you are not actually coming up with a real plan for what to do. The whole point of being strategic is saying, “How can I get something that will work?” I think a lot of grandparents are in the place of saying, “Oh I just don’t know how to make anything work. I don’t even know if you can in this world in which we live.” They’re almost in a place of hopelessness, or at least discouragement. …The way to get out of that is to start thinking differently, to start praying differently, to start acting differently. And that’s why we use the word strategic.
(To be continued…)
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