Sharing our heritage is a great part of being a grandparent.

What is your heritage?

That’s a big question and it can be different for different people, but mainly I’m referring to memories, stories, and sometimes mementos that link us to the past and help to shape a family’s identity. Often, values and beliefs are a big part of that heritage. And here’s a key idea from my book, The HEART of Grandparenting:

We should be purposeful about sharing our heritage with our grandchildren.

How and when can we do this? It could happen around holidays, as part of special occasions like birthdays or family reunions, or during regular visits. Or they may happen spontaneously. They might take place in the living room, at the dinner table, while working together on a project, or on the drive to an event. But these are important memories and pieces of information, so look for opportunities to share them with your grandkids.

And second, when you do talk about your heritage, share from the heart.

The content you share is up to you—and there are exercises to help you recall and capture those memories and pieces of wisdom. But when you add emotion to the historical information and life stories you share, you deepen the relational connection with grandchildren. Whether the emotion is sadness, joy, fear or surprise, your stories will become even more memorable, your children and grandchildren will empathize with your experiences and feelings, and the bonds connecting you to one another will grow stronger.

Sharing this history with genuine pride in and love for those who have gone before you can help create in your grandchildren a sense of destiny. If a lesson from the past pertains to something you see in your family members or in current family dynamics, offer that lesson gently and in love. Also let your grandchildren know that they themselves are part of the family heritage you’ve been talking about. Grandchildren will notice what you value and perhaps be encouraged to continue on the same path that earlier generations walked.

How do you connect with your grandkids and share about your past? See what other grandparents are doing on our Facebook page.

This was adapted from Dr. Ken Canfield’s book, The HEART of Grandparenting. Find out more and get your copy here.