Author: Ken Canfield, PhD

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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Raising Grandchildren

This is a salute to a special kind of grandparent. Recent research shows that the number of grandparents who are raising their grandchildren full-time is rapidly rising. Some 2.7 million grandparents are serving as primary caregivers for grandchildren under 18 years of age. Some other qualitative studies have reported that many grandparents express regret about having to care for their grandchildren, but they do so anyway. They step into often troubled situations and become important role models for those children. No one ever plans to raise their grandkids, but sometimes—because of divorce, death, or other difficult circumstances—it happens. If...

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Grandparent Involvement: Extending the Benefits

A wise man once told me, “If you want to see how well you raised your own children, look at your grandchildren.” Being a grandparent is becoming more complex these days, and I’m happy to see that many grandparents are making the effort to keep in step with their grandchildren. Grandparents have important roles in transmitting wisdom and values, providing a link to the past, and being an extra source of support and guidance for grandkids. Sometimes kids need to hear it from someone other than their parents, and grandparents can fill that role to perfection. I hope you’re...

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The Emotional Needs of Grandchildren

Don’t all grandchildren love playdough? Mine sure do. They love to roll it, shape it and mold it. They love the colors, the pliability and the texture of this clay-like substance. With a few lumps of playdough, you and your grandchild can create something of beauty which adds a spark to their imaginary world. It’s an inexpensive way to spend time with your grandchild, getting in tune with his world and producing a piece of art he can be proud of. There are ways in which your grandchild’s emotional development can be shaped like playdough. Taking time to notice,...

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Grandparents: An Untapped Resource

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter set aside the first Sunday after Labor Day to honor grandparents. The official proclamation made a convincing argument for this holiday: “Grandparents are our continuing tie to the near-past, to the events and beliefs and experiences that so strongly affect our lives and the world around us. Whether they are our own or surrogate grandparents who fill some of the gaps in our mobile society, our senior generation also provides our society a link to our national heritage and traditions.” According to a 2002 survey by the AARP, most grandparents (56%) see at least...

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