Thursday Feb 02, 2023

Becoming Intentional Grandparents – Dr. Josh Mulvihill, Part 3 (Family Series)

Dr. Josh Mulvihill joins Yvette to talk about the blessing of grandparents. What does the Bible say about a grandparent's role, and how can grandparents be a blessing to homeschool families?

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Becoming Intentional Grandparents – Dr. Josh Mulvihill, Part 3 (Family Series)

Watch this full conversation on our YouTube channel.

Dr. Mulvihill answers these questions and covers the following topics this week:

  1. What is the biblical role of grandparents
  2. What is the role of grandparents in homeschooling
  3. What about grandparents who DON’T support homeschooling?
  4. How can grandparents be engaged in homeschooling? How can they help lighten the load for parents?
  5. What about long distance?
  6. How can parents and grandparents work together to homeschool children?
  7. How can kids serve grandparents?
  8. What are the benefits of having grandparents involved?

Josh Mulvihill is the Executive Director of Church and Family Ministry at Renewanation. He served as a pastor for 18 years, has a PhD in Family Ministry, serves on the board of AWANA, and is the author or editor of ten books on parenting and grandparenting including Biblical Grandparenting, Preparing Children for Marriage, Biblical Worldview, and his latest 50 Things Every Child Needs to Know Before Leaving Home. He is married to Jen. They homeschool their five children and live in Victoria, MN. Josh blogs at, enjoys camping, fishing, reading a great book, and a DIY project on their hobby farm.



  • We are working on a new movie! Garritt has begun pre-production on a new feature-length documentary on education. Support the project here.
  • The Family Series will continue with interviews from Dr. Josh Mulvihill, Dr. Matthew McDill, Natalie Mack, Misty Bailey, and more!

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Hey, everyone, this is Yvette Hampton. Welcome back to the Schoolhouse Rock podcast and welcome back to my conversation with Josh Mulvihill. If you guys missed Monday's episode, in Wednesday's episode, go back and listen to those. We are talking about grandparents. And like I said Monday, you don't have to be a grandparent to listen to this. As a matter of fact, I'm assuming that most of you are not grandparents, so some of you probably are.

And maybe your child gave this to you to listen to it because you are the grandparent of their children and you play such an important role if you are. But one day, you know what? We're all going to be grandparents. You know, most of us I shouldn't say all of us, but I think most of us will be grandparents at some point.

So we're actually going to talk a little bit later today on how we can prepare for grand parenthood. But but I have a couple of other things I want to talk about before then. But before we get into that, I want to say thank you again to our sponsor, B.J., you press homeschool. Do you want help managing your homeschool day on a day to day basis?

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Josh welcome back. I am really enjoying this conversation and man, it's convicting. I, I love it and I hate it. I love and hate talking about things that convict me. And I'm as you're talking, I'm like, oh, we really need to work on these things with our grandparents because I know that my kids grandparents really do love them and praise God.

All of their grandparents are still alive and walking this earth. And so we need to be more intentional about building relationships with them. And so I really do appreciate your just transparency and the study that you've done of God's Word to just help guide us through this world of of having grandparents in our life. I want to ask you a question that I used to have a very, very strong opinion on this and now I'm curious because as we're talking about homeschooling, I'm curious to know what your take is on this.

And maybe, I don't know. Let's see, I want to talk about grandparents and discipline, because I used to think grandparents should have nothing to do with disciplining their kid, their grand kids at all. And I mean, like spanking time out, you know, whatever in any kind of reprimand. Now, correction is different. You know, if your grandchild is going to burn their hands on the stove, then by all means scream at the top of your lungs and stop that from happening.

But as we talk about grandparents being involved in homeschooling, perhaps that brings a little bit different responsibility to grandparents. Right. And the world of discipline. I just think that discipline and correction is really the role of parents, not grandparents. But tell me, I want to know from you and from your study of the Bible what your take is on this.

Well, I agree with you. The Bible only gives specific commands for the discipline of a child to parents. It never directs that to grand parents. So I think that's pretty informative. So I think that should generally guide us. But I do have a but. Okay. The more time a grandparent spends with the grandchild, the more necessary that some form of correction is needed.

And I believe this becomes one of those family conversations that it's wise to have early on so that some surprises are avoided and landmines do not get walked on. I have many experiences with individuals that grandparents even are avoided discipline and it was a train wreck or jumped into discipline thinking they needed to. And it was a train wreck because mom and dad and grandma and grandpa weren't on the same page.

Yeah. So I'll give you some examples. If grand parents babysit a child a day, a week or multiple days a week and the grandchild is there on a consistent basis, there's even our our delightful little cherub children, they all have their moments and they will with the grand parent and they learn, you know, they learn really quick. I can get away with stuff if there's no you know, if there's there's no boundaries that could be enforced.

So we we essentially set grandparents up to fail. If if a grandchild learns, hey, I could do whatever I want. And it just it, it ties the hands of a grandparent. So I think in certain instances where grandparents are spending regular or high volumes of time, high volumes would be mom and dad go out of town for a week and grandparents come over and are there for a week watching the kids.

There needs to be a plan. You can't just leave and say, right, you know, see in a week guaranteed, there's going to be there's going to be stuff that arises. So what is that? I just have that conversation. What are you comfortable with? What are grandparents comfortable with? I don't know, a single grandparent that would want to physically correct a grandchild, spank a child, a grandchild, and I discourage that.

So I would say put that aside. But there needs to be some form of correction that is there that a grandparent can utilize. So what is that and what does that look like? Have that conversation. I'll throw out to other areas that often trip families up. It's media usage and it's food consumption. And sometimes. Yeah, and sometimes bedtime routines.

When does it you know, you grandparents stay with grandkids and they go to bed at midnight, they come back and they're wrecked or, you know, chil your grandchildren are over came and grandpa's house and they are a little more liberal with what they watch. And, you know, you know, we're pretty conservative, for example, and oh, my goodness, we would never let our kids watch that.

You know, there are certain things that will guaranteed create some challenging conflicts. And those are all areas that's just wise. Well, I'll call it the talk. Have the talk, discipline, media, food, bedtime, if you can. You know, what we're essentially we're doing is managing expectations, limiting, eliminating surprises. And when we get to that point, it's a win then for everybody, because then we can have good experiences.

And, you know, all grandparents are different. Some that tend to be more harsh and tend to be a little more authoritative. We can have the conversation about, okay, there needs to be grace because grandchildren are going to experience that side of a grandparent. And the what we don't want to have is for our great grandchildren are super sensitive to this stuff.

And so we want to again set our parents up for success to say, okay, here, you know, this is the way a grandchild, whether it's right or not, this is the way they're perceiving things. I want you to know, so adjustments can be made so that it can be a wonderful experience, because what ends up happening is if there's bad experiences in these areas, either we say as parents, oh, we're not going to let grandparents spend time or grandkids go, I don't want to go over there because it wasn't fun, it wasn't enjoyable.

So this helps us avoid those kinds of outcomes. And then grandparents go, What did I what happened? What did I do? And so these are those are just practical areas that really help in the long run. So have the talk.

Yeah, love it. That is great. Great, great and very helpful Encouragement. Let's take a break. We'll be right back. We are back with Josh Mulvihill. So this was so interesting. You told me, I think it was before we started recording the average age of grandparents. And what is that? What is the average age of grandparents?

It is 47 to 50, 53 years old. It's the average age. Someone first becomes a grandparent. Young. It's young. Yeah. Most people think it's way older.

Right? Right. Well, you say young because you're in your forties and I'm going to say young, too, because I'm in my forties. But yeah, I mean, that really is young. It's so funny as they think about Garrett and I mean, you know, we're at 28 years of marriage. We could easily be grandma, grandparents and you know, we're not yet, of course, but you know, it would not be weird at all.

I have lots of friends that I've graduated high school with who are grandparents now, and I see them on Facebook and I'm like, how do you have grandkids already? It makes me feel old because when we think about grandparents, we think of, you know, gray haired, white haired, you know, old people in an old folks home. And that's not the reality of most grandparents.

And so most are young. And as we look to that and as you know, my kids are growing so fast and I'm looking towards them, you know, being out of our home and starting their own lives and getting married and stuff. I really want to prepare myself to be a grandmother. And we talk about these things with our girls.

You know, I can't wait some day to be a grandparent, to have grandkids. How do we prepare ourselves now to have a really good relationship with our kids and with our grandkids as as they grow?

I'll give you three words understand, embrace and discuss. So understand the biblical role that God's given grandparents. You know, all of us are going to be first time grandparents at some point that more than likely that have kids. And like the numbers I read, at some point, it's like 98% of parents become grandparents. So it's like a virtual lock for for just about every one of us that have kids.

It's just a matter of when. You know, there may be a few that that's not the case. But and so that day is coming. We want to be prepared for it when it's here. And that begins with understanding what the Bible says, what God's role is for us, and and getting clarity around that. Many don't have it. And of course, you can't apply what you don't understand and you don't know.

So open up your Bible at some point and begin just to do a study on what does the Bible say about grandparenting, and that will be extremely helpful for you. The second piece is embrace. You know, I think this has a lot of different facets to it, and it begins, in my view, with some life choices. So in Minnesota where I live, a lot of individuals move away.

They're snowbirds for part or all of the year, and they will sometimes all will go thousands of miles from their family by choice. You know, there's yeah, this is if it's work related or other than okay it makes sense but but I'll often talk about grand parenting and I'll never forget this this one grandmother that came up to me and she said, you know, I just heard everything you had to say, Josh and I've got my house on the market right now.

And I was going to move to Florida, but my entire family lives here in the Twin Cities. She's like, I suppose that means I probably shouldn't leave then. And yeah, that's a that's a convicting thing. You know, obviously distance doesn't mean you can't do what God says in his word, but it definitely makes it more difficult. And so those kinds of life choices that we begin to make and some of us are making those now about where we live, how we live, you know, as our standard of living inheritance kinds of questions, we start to get into that arena.

My personal preference is I would rather give inheritance kinds of things to children in a way that that helps them, helps children and grandchildren know love and serve Jesus while we're alive. This could be an education related piece of paying for college. It could be blessing with a home or a down payment for a home in a marriage for a grandchild.

There's a lot of different ways, but those begin to come into the conversation piece and so those life choices, I will say, we want to embrace what the Bible has to say and allow them to begin to inform some of those life choices. I would love for all of us to go from, Hey, I'm a I'm a grandparent, I'm a Christian grandparent, too.

I'm an intentional Christian grandparent. And when I spend my time with my my grandkids from their earliest days to my final days, it will be with that intentionality in mind. And then the third one that I mentioned is discussed. I think it's wise to start having conversations as a couple right now and with our children even long before they're dating, married, having grandkids just to be to be planting seeds about that stage and age, to say, you know, we want to be active as grandparents in your kids lives.

We want to you want, you know, we can start painting a vision and a picture that they then can speak to and help shape. But many in many ways, our grandparents are often, I believe, you know, they're held at a distance and they're at a loss because the kind of picture that they painted for their kids is one they they don't like now.

And there's such a distance and a disconnect. And so let's paint a picture with them. Have discussions about intimate, connected together. What does that look like? And, of course, you know, for some there will be a moving away that is required. But that doesn't mean that that has to be the norm. I think you know, we've got one of our oldest right now is 16, is a junior in high school.

He's just on the doorstep of college. So one of the one of the practical things in this area, you know, we're thinking about where does he go to school? And most people maybe this is a generalization a lot of people that go far away to school, that's where they meet their spouse. That's when they begin to work. That's where they settle down, build a family.

And sometimes they end up moving back home. But that I would much prefer to, if possible, encourage a young person to stay within the sphere of where we live unless God is clearly calling them out to a different location. If it's a preference piece, then man, I'm going to do everything I can to encourage a closer geographical location for our kids so that that grandparent piece is one of the, you know, one of the biggest challenges is long distance grandparenting.

It's it's a huge challenge when you have kids scattered all over the country, grandkids scattered all over. You know, there's a lot that we can be that can be done with time and technology or travel and technology, but it has its limitations. Nothing beats face to face in person. And so those are the kinds of things I would say.

So here's my question What do you want for your grandparenting years? Mm hmm. Have that discussion as a couple. Begin to paint that picture for your kids. Work towards it. You know, we hold those that loosely are plans. You know, God, God directs our steps. We can make our plans, but at least we have, you know, we've got something.

And and, you know, I think that's what we can be doing today to prepare. One other thing I'll mention if you have if you're if you're in the early parenting or marriage years, especially the early marriage years, I will say don't delay child bearing, because what this does, if you delay marriage and then you delay child bearing, you essentially delay grandparenting on the front end.

You might feel like, hey, this is great. We've got you know, we got some years together as a couple kind of payoffs, loans start to make some money, have some fun. Well, what ends up happening is you move from being a younger grandparent to an older grandparent on the back end. And that makes a pretty considerable difference if you're starting to have grandkids for the first time in the mid the late fifties or even early sixties, you've just closed that window considerably as far as the grandparent influence.

And I know a lot of grandparents in my travels with grandparenting, physical limitations begin to be a real thing as far as health goes. And yeah, and so, you know, those are conversations we've even had with our kids about don't delay marriage. If, you know, if you have clarity about the person you're you know, the Bible talks about the wife of our youth.

God loves early marriage when it's, you know, in a wise way and you'll be fruitful and multiply on the early side. That's going to you know, there'll be some challenges on the front end potentially, but you'll reap the benefits down the road. So those are all preparation kinds of things that we can be thinking about.

Yeah, Yeah. So good. I like that. You talked, you mentioned, you know, just painting a vision as grandparents and, you know, as we move into grand parenthood, at some point. And I thought, what a great thing we've talked on the podcast about in our homeschool, you know, creating a vision for our homeschool and for our family. And I never have thought about doing that as grandparents, you know, And how great would it be for grandparents to literally sit down together and create a vision for themselves?

Like, what do you want to be as a grandparent? What do you how do you want your kids to remember you and how do you want your grandkids to remember you when you leave this earth? What kind of legacy do you want to leave for them? And just taking the time to really think through that and write that down, I think is such a gift that grandparents can give to their their families, you know?

So anyway, we are out of time. But really quickly, you mentioned earlier that you have a book series and is it published by Family life today? Because I'm you said Dennis Rainey forced you to write a book in seven weeks. That's crazy. Yeah. What is the book series and where can people find it?

It's published by Bethany House. It is. It's called the Grandparenting Matter Series. You can find them on pretty much any book outlet. Amazon. I don't love giving Amazon business, but yeah, that's the quick reference place for a lot of people. Make a starting point. There's seven books in the series. If you want a deep dive with a lot of research and study biblical grandparenting is the place to go.

It's my favorite one. It is meaty. It's great If you are a more of a casual click, read the book. Grandparenting is is a good one that has a study guide that goes with it, a DVD series. A lot of churches use it for small groups. Sunday School classes. And then there's the third one. If you're like a voracious reader, it's called discipling your Grandchildren.

And it's literally a book. It's written by a grandmother and my wife and I, and it's literally hundreds of ideas to disciple a grandchild in which there's eight, eight methods that Scripture gives, I think are pretty clear for grandparents. And we just kind of tease that out a whole bunch of different ways. And that's pretty impactful. So if you're if you're like, I want the practical stuff or a good gift for a grandparent this Christmas, this at Christmas, but a good gift in the future that you a.

Mother's Day or Father's Day.

There you go. There you go.

Yeah. So great. Okay. We will put links to all of your books, including 50 things, and we'll put links to all of those in the show notes so people can quickly find them. Josh, thank you for your ministry. Thank you for just being so passionate about families, about grandparents, about the legacy that they're leaving for their grandkids and just just, you know, tying that cord together because it's so important, I think more important than we realize.

And and you know, you referred to several times how it's different in the United States and it is and other places. And I think that's sad. I wish that we had a culture that that really embraced grandparents more than it does and the relationships that we have with them, because they really are an important part of the lives of our kids.

And so thank you for bringing the conviction this week to me as well as I'm sure so many of our listeners. And just for your wisdom that you shared, we really appreciate it. And you guys, thank you so much for listening. We are so grateful for you. Please let us know how we can be praying for you. You can reach us at podcast at Schoolhouse Rock dot com.

Have a great rest of your week and we'll see you back here on Monday with another fantastic guest by.


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