by Dr. Ken Canfield

Are you one of those gung-ho grandmas or granddads? I hope so. Because there are incredible rewards wrapped up in making investments in future generations. Many mature adults will say there’s nothing as exhilarating as being part of their grandchildren’s lives. There’s a wonderful and mysterious connection between grandparents and grandkids, and we enjoy every minute.

If you are blessed as a grandparent, where nearly all your interactions with your children and grandchildren are positive, savor it. Enjoy every precious opportunity you have with them.

Some grandparents will take that genuine feeling of wanting to see their grandkids smiling and happy, and will “spoil” them with gifts and snacks and letting them do what they want. That might seem rewarding for us for a while, but as I’m sure you know, it isn’t what’s best for our grandkids and it shouldn’t be the main way we relate to them.

The rewards we get as grandparents are really great, but they can’t be our primary focus. Our bigger desire or drive as grandparents should be to help our grandkids grow and thrive—even as we’re enjoying every moment with them.

Bottom line, when old and young generations unite, both benefit. We’re able to play a key role and bring many great things to our grandkids’ lives. Here are just a few ways we can do that:

Pass on heritage. A great part of being a grandparent is sharing our heritage—the memories, stories, and sometimes mementos that link our grandkids to the past and help to shape their identity. And we should be purposeful about this around holidays, during birthdays or family reunions, or just routine visits. And it can be spontaneous—at the dinner table, while working together on a project, or on the drive to an event.

Provide wisdom. I have heard grandparents described as reservoirs of family wisdom. There is great value in those everyday nuggets and sayings that our own grandparents repeated to us as well as the new things we’re learning from day to day. Maybe we can tell a grandchild about a verse from the book of Proverbs or start a brief conversation based on something he or she is going through. We may not always feel like we have a lot of wisdom, but to our grandchildren, we definitely do.

Show unconditional love. A big part of the special connection between grandparents and grandkids is a sense of comfort, peace, and delight that emanates from us. We can affirm and bless them no matter what—even when they get older and make some poor decisions or go down a dangerous path. Growing up isn’t easy, and our grandchildren need unconditional love from us every time we see them.

Grandparents, keep being you! Keep up the good work you’re doing with your grandkids. Stay purposeful with them. Keep doing all you can to make sure your grandchildren’s relational tanks are full. Just don’t miss the opportunities you have to make a positive difference with them in the process.

How are you investing in building up your grandkids’ character and future? Share insights with us and other like-minded grandparents on our Facebook page.