Author: Ken Canfield, PhD

Letters from Grandma / Grandpa

Christopher’s bedroom wall has various items and memorabilia that you might expect to see from a high schooler. But on one wall there’s a bulletin board covered with letters, written on stationery. There are probably twenty or thirty pieces of paper pinned there. For about the past ten years, he and his grandmother have exchanged letters. Not emails or texts, although they do that occasionally, too. These are written letters that they write back and forth on a regular basis. She’ll typically write about what’s going on in her life and some upcoming plans, but she always includes words...

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Why Grandparents Can Influence Grandchildren

Brad is a strong, clean-cut rancher in his early thirties, married with children. He loves spending a day on a horse. He knows cattle—how to pick them at the sale barn, how to work them, and how to manage the pastures in order to put weight on them. Ranching is his joy, what he lives and breathes. Where did this lifeblood come from? It’s clear that he is his grandfather extended into another generation. With emotion in his voice, Brad told me about his growing-up years. There had been good times with his father, but he always felt that he could never please his dad no matter what he accomplished. His older brother had always been the apple of his father’s eye. Most likely Brad would have turned rebellious and self-destructive except for one factor: as a young boy, he had a grandfather who loved and accepted him just the way he was. His grandfather was his hero, and that changed his life. Brad was the tag-along on his grandfather’s ranch. As he matured, his grandfather’s strengths and interest began to show up more and more in him. The relationship with his father gradually improved, but he said his brother is the one who’s somewhat like his father. Then, with a glint of pride in his eyes, he proclaimed, “And I am just like my granddad.” The similarities go...

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Barriers to Grandparenting

I hope you enjoy a special kinship with your grandchildren. It’s one of life’s most precious opportunities. And most grandparents love their role, but if you’re a one who doesn’t, keep reading. My good friend Chuck Aycock studies and encourages grandparents. And he has noticed that some grandparents aren’t fully engaged with their grandkids because they’re held back by two life-stage barriers. I want to make you aware of those barriers, so you can hurdle them and move forward with your grandkids. First, you may have a limited view of your remaining years. Even if you have potentially thirty...

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Generational Resolve

I can remember, years ago, having the opportunity to be with my grandfather during his final days. I vividly remember all the tubes attached to his body. Those dripping lifelines sustained him, but only for a short time, as he struggled for his life and then finally lost the battle and died. Granddad was a huge influence on my life. What I remember most about him is that he was consistent, and always accessible. I was a teenager when he was retiring, and I got into more than my share of trouble. More than once he towed my car...

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A Grandpa’s Secrets

I can recall a memorable conversation with a grandfatherly gentleman some years ago. He told me that he read my books and had heard me on the radio, and he pulled me aside to share this: “There are two things that every kid needs—two things.” I listened very closely. He reached into the pocket of his trousers and pulled out a pocket knife that must have been fifty years old. “Every kid needs a pocket knife,” he said. “Every one of my kids had a pocket knife—I even give them to my grandkids! My son came to me and...

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