We applaud those in the ranks of grandparents who are true heroes. In a way, all grandparents are heroes because of the contributions we make to our grandkids’ lives and the love we show them. Some are also taking on full-time care of their grands, and that’s a whole other level of heroism and self-sacrifice. You deserve to be recognized for that.

There’s another group that merits more attention, and that’s those of us who are surrogate grandparents—or maybe spiritual grandparents.

If you didn’t know your grandparents growing up, were there older people who invested in you and encouraged you in some way? Maybe it was just a one-time encounter, or maybe it was ongoing or even an everyday thing.

As grandparents, we know there’s a magical connection we have with our grandkids. Something about our life situation and skipping a generation puts us in a position to enjoy and bond with our grandkids. There’s nothing else quite like it.

Something similar can happen with other children, too.

If our grandchildren live far away and we see them only occasionally, that shouldn’t stop us from investing in future generations. Or, maybe things are difficult with your adult children and you don’t get to see your grandkids as often as you’d like. Maybe that’s your cue to look for ways to pour yourself into other children and families.

This is part of embracing a larger vision for what grandparenting can and should be. If you have a desire to share your heritage, tell your stories, give encouragement, pass on wisdom and values, and so many other things a grandparent does, there are many people out there who need that in today’s world. Some of them desperately need it. And you have a lot to share with them.

Maybe they are in your neighborhood or church, or there’s a community group you’re involved in. Maybe it’s an extended family member. Sure, it might not be quite the same as with your own grandkids, but you can make a difference nonetheless.

Are there other kids who call you “Grandma”?

Sometimes these surrogate grandparenting relationships happen naturally with those around you, with children of friends. Or, you may need to take some initiative. Consider getting involved in mentoring or volunteering for a charity organization that serves children and families. And on the spiritual side, often churches have groups already meeting that would allow you to lead and influence children.

Whatever you choose to do, getting involved like this will be a great reminder that, no matter what the relationships with your children and grandchildren may be like right now, you have a lot to offer other children and youth. And there are plenty of rewards and growth that come with that, too.

How have you done this? To what other kids are you a grandparent? Please share with other grandparents at our Facebook page.