Blog Article

Spring Cleaning for Grandparents

Written by Dr. Joannie DeBrito, Family Support Specialist

Have you ever noticed that when you clean out your closets, you feel better?

Sure, you feel better because you finally made the decision to get rid of that old raincoat you’ve been hanging on to for 20 years (but never worn during that time!), but you feel better in other ways.

Your mind is clearer, you feel less anxious, and you feel unencumbered.

That’s because there is a connection between being externally and internally organized. 

Most often, when people are experiencing chaos in their relationships, having difficulty at work, or struggling with some sort of emotional or psychological pain, their state of mind is reflected in the stacks of unopened mail at home, cluttered counters, messy rooms, garages full of junk, or desks that look more like a dumping ground than a place where any business would take place.

The opposite is true as well.

When, for whatever reason, we allow our outside worlds to become disorganized, we tend to feel more chaotic inside.

Over the years, when working with clients who were feeling overwhelmed by a number of problems in their lives, I would ask them, “How do your closets look at home?”

After asking me what that had to do with therapy, nearly every client, man or woman, would say, “My closets are a mess!” 

“Ok,” I would say, “I want you to go home and clean out at least one closet this week and come back and tell me how you felt after you did that. “

At the next session, the typical response was a laugh followed by something like, “You know it’s crazy but I felt better and more hopeful. My anxiety went down and I made some decisions that I had been struggling with. Is that nuts?”  

Not at all.

So, grandparents, I’d like to suggest that you do some Spring cleaning as well.

You can start with cleaning out your closets, the garage, or pulling weeds, but the kind of Spring cleaning I’d like to recommend here is related to cleaning up what’s going on in the space between both of your ears and several inches down in your heart.

Why? Because you need a clear mind and a heart for God in order to be able to show your grandchildren how to live a life that glorifies the Lord.

Your grandchildren learn much more from what they observe in you than from what you say.

Your actions can either provide the evidence for seeking an abundant life serving God or succumbing to the temptations of a secular culture that encourages selfishness and self-indulgence.

Here are some ways you might want to clean house this Spring. Pick one or more that you recognize as something you need to focus on.

  1.  Start with confession, a sure way to clear out guilt making the path to your relationship with the Lord less cluttered.
    • I John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (NIV)

  2. Examine your relationships with your spouse and other family members and think about how you present yourselves in front of your grandchildren. Rid yourselves of words or actions that communicate disharmony.

    I recently realized that my husband and I sometimes bicker in front of my grandchildren. While the words are not harsh, the tone of voice is sometimes disrespectful. We are working on letting them see that we can disagree respectfully and come to a solution that is a win-win for both of us.

    Children need to learn that it is normal to have conflicts with others and that there are ways to resolve them peacefully, often with humor.

  3. Get rid of bad habits that jeopardize or interfere with your physical, social, emotional, or spiritual health. You need to model practices that contribute to you being the healthiest person you can be, in order to show your grandchildren how to be healthy and to have the energy to keep up with them.

  4. Pack up any bitterness or resentment you may have toward children who have disappointed you, distanced themselves from you, or made it difficult for you to have a relationship with your grandchildren and throw it out with the morning trash. That will leave room for you to think about how you can mend those relationships, have grace for your children, and practice forgiveness.
    • Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (NIV)
    • The most common questions I get on the Ask Dr. Joannie page are related to grandparents feeling hurt because of broken relationships with children and grandchildren. Usually, if two people or parties have a conflict, both are partly responsible for the problem and the solution. Be the first to reach out to reconcile.

  5. Throw out the excess minutes and hours you spend each day on social media, watching television, surfing the internet, or tethered to a device. Replace that time with prayers for your family and/or time spent relating to them.

  6. Eliminate pessimism and cynicism from your life. There has always been plenty going on in the world to feel bad about and life has a way of throwing lots of unexpected curveballs. It’s important to grieve when we have experienced a significant loss but a pattern of pessimism or cynicism is not healthy and doesn’t acknowledge the many gifts and joys we have to be grateful for.

    Replace your negative thought patterns with expressions of gratitude for a Savior who loves you and has provided freedom from pain in eternity. Especially when we anticipate Easter, you might want to recognize that the torment Jesus went through leading up to his death on the cross was followed by the resurrection and the promise that it brings to all believers. Celebrate and be joyful about that!
    • Isaiah 61:10 – I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of His righteousness, as a bridegroom adorn his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (NIV)

Grandparents, it’s time to clear out the clutter in your mind and soul. Where are you planning to start?

5 thoughts on “Spring Cleaning for Grandparents”

  1. Thank you for these words of wisdom. I most definitely will pray about my words and attitude expressed towards my spouse when we disagree in the presences of my grandchildren.

    Thank you

  2. Wonderful. And yes cleaning my house and closets have always made feel better
    And worshiping moves out negatives

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