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of your extended family as possible. This will enrich your children— as well as the extended family members!—in a host of ways.

Apart from parents, your children’s grandparents—the patriarch and matriarch of the entire family—should stand as the centerpieces of the extended family. While this ideal may be more difficult to at- tain than in generations past, it is crucial that you try as hard as pos- sible to continually expose your children to your own parents.

Grandparents are a veritable treasure trove—a gold mine—of experience, and they are a living link to the family’s past. They are generally filled with stories about ancestors and important world events of the past, which children may only read about, but which they have experienced. Grandfatherly and grandmotherly listening, followed by advice, is often a treasure that a child will carry with him for the rest of his life.

Grandparents are also often able to teach hobbies and crafts from the past that are being lost today to a whole generation of young people who know nothing of them. I remember looking forward with anticipation and excitement to the fun I would experience with all my grandparents.

There is another unseen side to the importance of your children having a strong relationship with grandparents. Solomon wrote, “Children’s children are the CROWN of old men” (Prov. 17:6). It is vital that grandparents feel loved, appreciated and honored by their grandchildren.

Understand. The Proverbs also instruct grandfathers (or grand- mothers) that “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (13:22). Would grandparents look forward to fulfilling this obligation if their grandchildren had been neglectful or disrespect- ful? Of course not. This instruction to your parents is based on the assumption that your children’s conduct and honor toward them mer- its such inheritance!

As with so many other “old paths” of the past, where respect for the elderly and authority figures was maintained, grandparents are now often only given “a lick and a promise” attention from their grandchildren or are completely pushed aside by them. If you permit your children to do this to your parents, then you are not only violat- ing the Fifth Commandment yourself, but are teaching your children to do the same to you later, when they give you grandchildren!

Another point: One of my grandfathers was absentee all during my life, with the only time I met him being once at age eight. He had

Building Relationships


divorced my grandmother long before I was born. She remarried a man who became an absolutely wonderful step-grandfather, a man we always called “Bobbie.” This man was proof that one does not have to be a biological “grandfather” to effectively love and influ- ence children. The message here is to make the best of the circum- stances you have without complaining.

One final point is important here: Children who spend a lot of time with their grandparents tend to become comfortable in the pres- ence of all older people. So few young people today have any time for the elderly, who are now more often merely the objects of deri- sion and disrespectful name-calling. Properly teaching your children to respect their grandparents carries the wonderful side-benefit of making them comfortable in the presence of those who present a vast “Fort Knox” wealth of experience to draw upon—for those wise enough to “enter the vault” on a regular basis.

Require Siblings to Get Along

One of the greatest frustrations of parents is that their children con- tinually fight—and over almost every kind of issue and possession. What is often referred to as “sibling rivalry” is nothing more than raw human nature—vanity, jealousy, lust and greed—allowed to re- main unchecked in your children. This pattern usually begins at a very early age, and has to be addressed when it first appears. Many parents are worn out by the constant fighting, bickering and yelling between children in the household. Tragically, most parents have no idea what to do about it, let alone what causes it.

Teach your children from the very earliest age the importance of getting along with brothers and sisters. This naturally begins with the firstborn, who may see a little brother or sister as competition sent to take away part of his world—including toys, other possessions and attention from parents who once had more time for him.

Explaining that the greatest happiness comes from sharingfrom GIVING to others—is teaching your children one of the most important principles they will learn throughout their lives. Human nature is selfish, greedy and grasping, and is only interested in re- ceiving, not giving—unless you train this out of your children’s thinking. Your children must know that if they do not share, things will be taken away from them so they (at least temporarily) do not have to worry about sharing. If this does not work, isolate your child

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