Author Interview: Renee Gray-Wilburn

blog grandparenting image“Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged;
parents are the pride of their children.” Proverbs 17:6 (NLT)

From crowning glory to caregiver, the once clearly defined role of grandparenting has morphed. But into what? Since tradition has become murky, and lifestyles have changed, many grandparents are left asking themselves that same question.

If you find yourself lost in the wilderness of grandparenting, the advice offered by veteran grandparents in “Grandparenting Through Obstacles: Overcoming Family Challenges to Reach Your Grandchildren for Christ,” just might help you find your way.

Author, Renee Gray-Wilburn is here to share with us about the book she has co-written with author, Dianne E. Butts. Thank you Renee, for giving us a peek inside your book.

GW: What inspired you to write about grandparenting?

RGW: My initial inspiration came as I began noticing all of the grandparents I would see at my kids’ school, either dropping off or picking up their grandkids or attending their school performances and events—not with the parents, but instead of the parents. As I got to know some of these grandparents, I learned that, in many cases, they were taking care of their grandkids regularly, either on a part-time or full-time basis.

Being a writer, I wanted to investigate this further, so I began doing some research on current grandparenting trends. When I learned how many grandparents there are in America (over 70 million—over one-third of the population) and how many are regularly caring for their grandkids (75 percent of them!), I was astounded.

The more I personally got to know grandparents, especially Christian grandparents, I began to realize that they had a lot of stuff to deal with! One of the biggest issues they had was trying to work better alongside their own kids to provide the guidance and support that their grandchildren needed. They also struggled with ways to share their faith with their grandkids, especially when their own children were not walking with God or when they didn’t get to see their grandchildren very often.

I saw this as an opportunity to provide a resource for these grandparents that could help and encourage them in their relationships with both their children and grandchildren.

GW: “Grandparenting Through Obstacles,” touches on some of the most common, yet complicated concerns facing grandparents. What are these concerns and how do they affect the parent-child and grandparent-child relationships?

RGW: Our book is divided into four sections, each dealing with a different “obstacle.” One is the physical distance that sometimes comes between families when the parents have to move themselves and their children away from the grandparents due to military commitments, job transfers, and so forth. The stories in this section deal with how grandparents learned to navigate their long-distance relationships by creatively finding ways to adjust and share their faith with their grandkids, even though they were hundreds of miles—or even continents—away.

Another section discusses the effects of broken families due to the damaging circumstances of divorce, abusive situations, addictions, etc. In many of these cases, the grandparents who shared their stories had actually become full-time or regular part-time caregivers to their grandchildren, abandoning their own lives for the sakes of their grandchildren.

A third section to our book is about the obstacle Christian grandparents face when trying to impart spiritual truths to their grandkids when their parents have forbidden them to do so. On one hand, the grandparents know it is their God-given duty to do all they can to reach their grandkids and help secure their eternal future, yet at the same time, they don’t want to risk violating the parents’ authority, which may lead to them not being able to see their grandkids again. In these stories, we saw how God worked miraculously through praying grandparents to change hearts and minds and orchestrate circumstances so that His purposes could be accomplished.

In our final section, we discuss the obstacle of grandparents trying to appropriately partner with the parents to train up their grandkids. Grandparents want to be an instrumental part of their grandkids lives, but it’s often difficult to know where their boundaries lie in areas such as discipline, the teaching of spiritual matters, and advice or guidance. Grandparents in this situation need God’s wisdom and ability to walk in love, patience, and kindness in order to maintain healthy relationships with their children and grandchildren.

GW: What is one piece of advice you would give today’s grandparent?

RGW: Know that you are not alone in your struggles, and surround yourself with other likeminded grandparents who can help you, encourage you, and pray for you. I think it’s helpful to actually have a small group that meets on a regular basis for this very purpose. Our book is organized in such a way that it is perfect for small-group discussion and study, with each chapter containing scriptures, questions, action items, and prayers.

Also, never leave God out of your family equation. Continue to pray for your kids and grandkids, speak His Word over them, and walk in love toward them. In His perfect timing, he will change hearts and bring your family members back onto His path.


ReneeGrandparenting Through Obstacles is the winner of GRAND magazine’s Top Grandparenting Books for 2012 as well as Book Club Network’s Nonfiction Book of the Year.

If you’re interested in connecting with Grandparenting Through Obstacles, you may follow our blog at, or find us on both Facebook and Twitter. Grandparenting Through Obstacles is available in paperback and Kindle versions through,, and


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  1. #1 by dianne1234e on April 2, 2013 - 8:55 pm

    Nice interview! Thanks, Julie, for hosting this. Thanks to Renee, also, for taking the time to share.

  2. #2 by juliemomyer on April 2, 2013 - 9:15 pm

    Thank you!

  1. GTO interview on Generation W blog | Grandparenting through Obstacles

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