This program is designed for grandparents raising grandchildren. It can be presented in two ways depending on the interest and family situations of the group.
Not So Empty Nest
When parents are absent or unable to raise their children, grandparents often step in. Raising a second generation comes with many rewards, but also many challenges. According to AARP, more than 2.6 million children live in homes where grandparents are responsible for them.
In other instances, an adult child and their family find it necessary to return to their parent’s home. Divorce, job loss and other significant life events can make this necessary. Allowing “birds” that now have an independent way of living back into a home that has already changed since their original departure can be challenging. Often ideologies, lifestyles and personalities clash. Establishing clear boundaries regarding finances, child rearing and other household issues can help to protect the relationship between parent and child.
If there are women in the group who find themselves in either of these situations, check the Internet for possible speakers in the area. Also provide resources where they can get help to make the transition easier for the entire family. The following websites have helpful information:
Decorate using birdcages, birdhouses and binoculars. Artificial nests with a small tea light candle in the center could be used as centerpieces.
Small, wooden birdhouses and acrylic craft paint can easily be transformed into works of art. Check the Oriental Trading® company for birdhouses at about $16.00 per dozen or explore local craft stores. Buy a bag of birdseed and divide it into individual bags for the women to take home with their birdhouse creations.
Decorating Your Nest
If someone in the group is skilled in home decorating, invite them to share their tips with the group. Or contact a local merchant who may have someone willing to share some of the latest trends in home décor.
Melt a bag of white chocolate chips with a tablespoon of shortening and stir in small pretzel sticks. Shape into nests. Place small chocolate egg shaped candies inside the nests. A mixture of nuts, seeds and dried fruit resembling edible birdseed could also be served.
Building a Nest
Watching a bird build a nest is fascinating. They can take anywhere from days to weeks to months to build a nest. The time and materials involved depend on the type of bird. Some birds build their nests high in a tree, some in a mound of grass and some in the curve of the metal letters of a store. In some circumstances, the female will build the nest alone. In other species, both male and female share the nest building. Spider webs, silk, mud, sticks, grass and saliva are common materials found in nests. Scientists have even found that some birds include herbs and spices in their nests to ward off bacteria. Each nest is built to protect the young birds until they mature and eventually fly from the nest. Much like our own journey through parenthood, we use the resources available to us, add a little bit of our blood, sweat and tears, and weave a nest with the purpose of protecting our children until they are ready to leave.
One day I observed a nest full of eggs near a lake that was being invaded by a predator. The mother goose was squawking and honking, obviously in distress over the situation. As I looked closer, I observed a water moccasin curled around the nest with its mouth stretched wide to swallow as many eggs as possible. Judging from the lumps lining its serpentine body it had already feasted on some eggs. Despite the danger to her own life, the goose flapped her wings, honked and squawked fiercely in an effort to save the rest of her eggs. The very place that she had worked so diligently to fashion into a safe shelter became a nightmare.
In our families it is important for us to model what it’s like to lead a godly life. We try to provide a safe place for our children to grow into adulthood. We love, pray, hope and have faith that our direction, corrections and love will shape a responsible adult. When circumstances and trials assault our nests, like water moccasins feasting on goose eggs, our children rely on our quick and appropriate reactions. When we faithfully show God’s love and concern, we direct our children onto the right path.
Raising children is hard work. We read in Proverbs 22:6: “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” This reminds us that when our children are young, we must show them the right path. It takes years of instruction, discipline, guidance, forgiveness, trial and error and love. It involves transporting children to school functions and sports games. It means sickness and trips to the doctor and sometimes the hospital. It’s supporting them through that first date, broken hearts, college applications and life’s disappointments. All these things are woven in and out as we create our nest, our home. We build the home with the hope that if we’ve done it correctly, someday it will be empty. But when this is not the case, we should not feel that we have failed. We must continue to rely on God to help us no matter our circumstances. He is faithful whether your nest/home is empty or not so empty.