When my children were young, I spent way too much money on far too many playthings. With my grandchildren, I had a chance to pull back on the gifting (with the help of my practical daughter-in-law). As a result, my two young grandsons take good care of what they receive for birthdays and Christmas and never ask for more. I confess that I still overdo it on occasion, but progress is being made.

One present I will never stint on: the gift of my faith. It’s a joy to say grace and read from a story Bible. I love to involve the children in our church education program and vacation Bible school. It’s a thrill to watch Aiden and Peter making crafts and playing games that reinforce Scripture, to hear their sweet voices raised in song. (The current favorite, even in summer, is the Christmas number “Baby Jesus, We Love You.”)

Kids aren’t expecting precise answers. They want a safe place to explore questions with someone who loves them.

As I get older, I have many more opportunities to cherish such moments than I did as a harried young mom of five children. “Nana” has extra time for a long chat about heaven, as I did recently with 5-year-old Peter. Turns out, we both have questions about details, but Peter also has firm faith in the afterlife.

Peter believes in the power of prayer too. In December, I overheard him in his bedroom praying that his big brother would get a “box of treasures” for Christmas. He wasn’t surprised when some treasures for Aiden appeared under the tree—of course his prayer had been answered!

At my age, the rapid passage of time is bittersweet. So it’s all the more precious that I can be with my little guys often now, and that we are living our lives together as beloved children of God.


Incorporate simple service projects into fun times with your grands. Bake treats for homebound neighbors; draw valentines for first responders. Even the youngest can and should know that they’re capable of helping others. Remind them that God is delighted when they make someone else happy.

Enjoy spiritual books together. Beyond story Bibles lies a world of wonderful children’s books with a spiritual focus. We enjoy Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams’ God’s Dream (Candlewick, 2010) and What Is God Like? by Matthew Paul Turner and Rachel Held Evans (Convergent, 2021). There’s nothing lovelier than cuddling in a rocking chair and turning pages.

Take time over a meal or before bed to have conversations about God. Don’t be surprised if they offer sophisticated observations! And don’t feel you have to be a “wise elder” or experienced theologian. The kids aren’t expecting precise answers. They want a safe place to explore questions with someone who loves them.

Elise Seyfried
Elise Seyfried is the author of five books of essays. Her essays have also appeared in Gather, Insider, The Independent, Chicken Soup for the Soul, HuffPost, The Philadelphia Inquirer and many other publications. Elise recently retired after 20 years as director of spiritual formation at a suburban Philadelphia ELCA church.

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