Many grandparents experience a surge of joy with the birth or adoption of a grandchild. For years afterward, time together is eagerly coveted, pictures are treasured and displayed, and multiple gifts along with various kinds of support are gladly provided. Richard Olson, a retired minister, professor of theology, and grandparent many times over, presents the unconditional love of a grandparent as indicative of a vocation, a calling from God. He explores the vocation of grandparent in all of its multiple dimensions of being and doing.
Informed by a biblical perspective, the book explores the author’s personal journey of grandparenting and includes conversations with a diverse set of other grandparents. Olson examines biblical examples of grandparenting and suggests that the grandparent vocation has possibilities that often go unnoticed. These include care, enjoyment, and response to issues throughout a grandchild’s growth. He also addresses concerns for our grandchildren’s future world, and how grandparents can engage in mutual conversation about faith, morals, and values in a changing world. In addition, Olson discusses increasingly common relationship types such as grandparents serving as primary caregivers, adults becoming step-grandparents through marriage, interreligious family systems, and grandparents handling children with special needs. The book includes questions for personal or group reflection.
Richard P. Olson has served as pastor or staff member of churches in Massachusetts, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Kansas. He has been a pastoral counselor and a teacher in college. Most recently, in early retirement years, he was the distinguished professor of pastoral theology at Central Baptist Theological Seminary, from which he retired in 2016.
He received his bachelor's degree from Sioux Falls College, MDiv and STM from Andover Newton Theological School, and PhD from Boston University (social ethics). He was also a fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.
He and Mary Ann, his wife of sixty-five years, have three daughters, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. They have relished their roles with this family. It is out of this journey and conversations with other enthused grandparents and grandchildren that this book was created.
In 2018, they moved to a retirement community, Oakwood Village at Prairie Ridge in Madison, Wisconsin. This move brought them closer to family members and more frequent contact with the grandchildren and great grandchildren.
This is the twenty-first book for which he is author or co-author, the most recent being Laughter in a Time of Turmoil; Side by Side: Being Christian in a Multi-faith World; A Guide to Ministry Self-Care: Negotiating Todays’ Challenges with Resilience and Grace; and Celebrating the Graying Church: Mutual Ministry Today, Legacies Tomorrow (the last two are also Rowman & Littlefield publications).
Introduction: Consider a Possibility—Grandparent as a Calling, a Vocation
Postscript: The Grandparent Vocation in the Declining Years
Appendix A: The Twenty Questions
Appendix B: Websites That May Be of Interest
Index of Bible Passages
About the Author
Grandchildren are precious and wonderful gifts! They keep us active, they teach us patience, they help us take time to play, they enable our continued learning, and they enlarge our love for life and family. No matter whether you are a church leader, a grandparent, or a grandchild, you will find Olson’s book is a highly readable and inspirational resource that bears witness to the indispensable calling of grandparenting.
"Over the years I have had the pleasure of reading Richard Olson’s books. This one is my favorite. I felt invited into his seminary classroom for classes like Grand-parenting: answering God’s Call; Delight: learning the literal truth from the language of the child; and Spiritual Guidance for grand-parenting that changes the world. Olson took me on an inward journey that helped me embrace this wonderful stage of life."
Richard Olson's reclamation of the grandparent role--in all its rich and varied manifestations--is a welcome antidote to an ageist society that too readily dismisses the gifts and contributions of older people. Olson elevates grandparenthood to its rightful place: as a vital calling and a source of care and healing for children, families, communities, and even the planet. This essential reframing of grandparenting as vocation invites not only grandparents but all people of faith to lovingly nurture intergenerational relationships and deeply consider our legacies.
3/23/2023, The Grand life: Faith Forward Podcast: