by Ken Canfield, Ph.D.

Grandparents, what do you stand for?

What do you value in life? What shining virtues stand above time and “progress”? What personal qualities do you want your children and grandchildren to carry forward into future generations?

Maybe you’ve given these questions a lot of thought, or maybe not. But probably a bigger question is,

Can your grandkids see those values and virtues in your life?

You should be thinking about these things, because you have a powerful influence on your grandchildren simply by displaying those virtues as part of your life.

You know the world has changed a lot in the past few generations. Your grandkids are growing up at a time when many people have far different definitions for concepts like commitment, sacrifice, faithfulness, self-discipline, respect, honesty, responsibility, work, faith, even love. If the world has skewed or flawed definitions, what are you telling your grandkids—through words and actions—to teach them the right definitions?

What about your actions? If you’re a person of faith, are your habits and actions consistent with that? If you want your grandchildren to appreciate a life of simplicity and not materialism, how does your life show it? Can you buy that new car or boat and still send a consistent message?

Do you miss the days when a person’s word really was his bond? What agreements or promises have you made to your grandchild, and how can you show that it’s important to keep them? If you believe in a strong sense of family, make that clear by your words and actions.

All grandparents must demonstrate these virtues.

What other values do you want your grandkids to pick up from you? A love for books? A positive attitude? A determination to never quit in the face of adversity? Compassion and service toward others? How about the ability to take care of one’s own possessions?

You may be able to make a list pretty easily, but are you modeling those characteristics? How well do you take care of the old Buick, or the lawn mower? How much time do you spend reading books that will improve you as a person? How often do you stop to help someone in need? How do you handle it when someone treats you unfairly?

Children are natural observers, and they can learn powerful, lasting lessons from watching a grandparent go through life with dignity, selflessness and a childlike sense of wonder.

What are you trying to model for your grandkids? What values or virtues are most important to you? Share your wisdom and join the discussion on our Facebook page.