“Sure enough, let’s go!” my grandson, a high school junior, said in response to my invitation to go out for a meal with me.
I learned this lesson from my father: “for those who are young, simple times can be special times.” Going out for a meal or treat loses some of its luster as we get older, but for grandchildren it can still be a special time. A restaurant is a good place for a strategic meeting – I have my list of restaurants and tables that are the best locations to both build relationships and pass on legacies. It is also exciting for grandchildren because they are free to pick anything they want to eat from the menu.
I know that by going out to eat, I will be eliminating the listening ears of family members who might be critical of my grandson’s thoughts and feelings or stifle his willingness to speak. I substitute my smiling and uncritical “listening ears”. Oddly, a public place is sometimes more private than a “private” place.
During the meal, I look for ways I can bring the Lord into our conversation. Sometimes it’s a hit and sometimes it’s a miss. Even when it’s a miss though, it is not usually a total miss. My grandchildren know that whenever I am around, we will be talking at least a bit about the Lord, the Bible or prayer. Their grandma and I always tell them we are praying for them and that we love them unconditionally. We also assure them that God is at their side and will always help them no matter the situation. Therefore, it is not too difficult for me to find ways to weave faith into our conversations. My simple strategy involves sharing a meal while mixing in some good thoughts or stories that let me casually pass on my faith.
The conversation can begin about anything, but we search for clues on how we can guide the discussion to something worthy. There is no preaching, only offering clarifications, suggestions, and support. As grandparents, we see our role as being there for our grandchildren, talking and listening to their ideas, concerns, questions, and dreams. We work to reinforce and build our intergenerational relationships. We want them to see that they can always trust us to love them and that our desire is for them to receive God’s very best for them.
I have been surprised more than once by what they remember and by what they implement in their lives from our “restaurant conversations.” Brick by brick, meal by meal, we are helping build Christian character into the lives of our grandchildren.
Doug DeMond has 21 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. He lives in Holt Michigan with his wife, Peg.