CHRISTIAN COMMENT What messages are we giving?

IT’S great being a grandparent.

There are the usual benefits – enjoying the children then giving them back when you get tired – and the embarrassing replays of things I did with my own children.

You know: the parents seem to over-react and get short-tempered and you hear yourself, thirty years ago, shrill-voiced and frustrated.

I’m not beating myself up over that: it’s just something I’ve noticed.

And, with all this sunshine, there seem to be a lot more children to notice – and the way parents/grandparents interact with them.

Example 1.

We’re at Sea Lane Café, waiting to go up the steps.

There’s a three-year-old coming down with his grandma.

He’s engrossed in something on the middle step and his grandma is waiting for him to finish.

She’s oblivious of the fact that there is a small queue of the hungry and thirsty forming.

Or maybe not bothered.

Whichever, it’s a couple of minutes before there’s any movement and then only when Mr Small has finished his inspection (being British, no-one actually says anything).

What message is the kid getting? “I’m being put first. I must be loved and valued”. I don’t think so.

More like “I always get to do what I want. Other people can wait.”

Example 2.

Still at Sea Lane Café.

Some mums are sitting round one of the outside tables, chatting and laughing.

The young son of one of them comes up and asks his mum something.

She ignores him.

He tries again.

Still she attends to her friends.

Finally, he gets hold of her sleeve and pulls it.

Immediately she turns, shouts and gives him an ineffectual swipe.

What message is he getting? I don’t know exactly – but it won’t be good.

That pattern, repeated, could suggest that a) he’s not worth much attention and b) he has to resort to at least minor violence to get himself noticed.

Example 3.

A young mum, tired after a hectic day at work, playing with her three-year-old on the grass.

She gives him undivided attention for ten minutes.

Then “Mummy’s going to have a rest now” and her son starts to play on his own.

He knows he’s the most loved person in the universe, but not the only one.

That seems a fair picture for God’s care of us.

He loves us totally (you don’t offer your only son to be killed in place of someone else if you don’t love that other person to the nth degree) yet He doesn’t let us get away with selfish behaviour.

We tend to think God ought to do whatever we ask Him to. And complain when He doesn’t.

Maybe He’s more interested in making us quality human beings.