Parenting

Hey Boomer! You Have Much to Offer Your Grandkids

By: Ben McEachen

Stop for a minute, to think about how hard it can be to be a grandparent.

Alongside the joy and satisfaction of grandchildren, consider the opposites. In a Western World dominated by steady social changes and social media influence, being a grandparent can be a bewildering undertaking.

Former church minister Ian Barnett spearheads Australia’s National Grandparent Movement.

Ian spoke ahead of the annual National Grandparents Conference on August 31 at St Paul’s church, Castle Hill, Sydney.

On a mission to inspire grandparents to leave the legacy of Christian faith with their grandchildren, Ian also raised the big challenges which can hinder intergenerational connection.

The Challenge of Now

So, what are grandparents confronting in 2024? Ian compared life several decades ago, pointing out that technology and social factors were not as hard to keep up with.

Along with the minefield of social media and the shifting sands of sexuality and gender, Ian added major changes to households and family dynamics.

As both parents have taken on paid work in Australia, grandparents have increased as part of the care arrangements for grandchildren. All of these elements add up to grandparents trying to work out their role and impact.

“How do they engage and speak, let alone listen without judging?” Ian asked.

Hey Boomer, Speak Up

Putting a finer point on the challenge for grandparents, Ian raised how “Influencer” has become a job of questionable value or integrity. He is annoyed at how the frivolous or unhelpful aspects of online Influencers have tarnished the positive parts of seeking to influence others.

“Why is it so bad that we have a desire to speak into the lives of others?” Ian asked. “We have gone on a certain track, run a certain race. There are some things that we do know about in life that we can and should pass on.”

Making matters worse, Australia has embraced a negative or hostile stance towards the Baby Boomer generation.

The “Hey Boomer” style of blaming older Australians for almost any problem is a problem itself, according to Ian. Such public hostility can suggest to some grandparents that they have everything to apologise for, and nothing to contribute.

“There must be something we know that might be helpful,” Ian said to emphasise shortcomings of the “Hey Boomer” gibes.

Because You Care

Rather than accept what the “Hey Boomer” movement suggests, Ian and the organisers of the National Grandparents Conference 2024 want more investment in grandchildren by grandparents.

With plenty of grandparents heavily involved with their grandchildren’s lives, Ian believed this coincided with increased awareness of the afterlife.

“As a Christian grandparent, you become far more conscious of the future,” Ian said. “You become far more conscious of what is the next chapter of your life; as in, [going home to] glory.

“You start to become more concerned about your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and their future.”

‘Sharing’ is a buzz word about the way we interact. Ian encouraged grandparents to embrace the power of story: their own story, sharing with grandchildren about the highs and lows of relationship with God and Jesus.

“What I’m trying to get grandparents to think about is: ‘What about your faith journey?’ Isn’t that one thing you can speak into the lives of your grandkids?”

“We can be far more engaged. How can we continue to tell the story of Jesus to not just every generation, but the next generation?”


Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

Feature image: Photo by Juliane Liebermann, Unsplash

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