by Dr. Ken Canfield

Having emotional connections with our grandchildren is grand! It’s rewarding for us, and we can use those connections to build up our grandkids and encourage them.

Blessing our grandkids is great for them today, and it might be even better for their future.

As grandparents, we should live with the awareness that our grandchildren are like messengers to a world that we may never see. That makes it vitally important that we help to prepare them for the journey. We look toward their future, believe the very best for them, and then convey that to them in memorable ways. And those positive investments have power that extends beyond our lives.

Sometimes we think of blessings as more formal acts, like being there to praise and encourage them during milestones or rites of passage in their development, or like giving a toast at a wedding. But there are also less formal and more practical aspects of blessing, and I like the way John Trent breaks these down in the classic book, The Blessing. So here are those five aspects of blessing with some brief applications for grandparents:

Meaningful Touch

Closeness and physical touch are great ways to connect with a grandchild and affirm him, whether it’s a hug, holding hands, putting your arm around his shoulder or touching his head. Sometimes it’s harder for parents to keep hugging their children as they enter the pre-teen and adolescent years, but that shouldn’t be an issue for us. It should be easy for us to say, “I need a hug,” or, “Come over here and sit next to me,” or with younger ones, to just pull them up on our lap. No matter how old our grandkids are, we should keep initiating that kind of physical affirmation.

Spoken Words

This might be more what we think of when we think of blessing our grandkids, but actually doing it is often another thing entirely. And this doesn’t have to involved prepared lines you’re going to say—although sometimes those are good too. More often, it’s just finding the words to express what’s on your heart:

“I’m just happy to be here with you.”

“You’re so special to me.”

“I believe in you.”

“I’m proud of you.”

“I’m here for you if you ever need something, any time.”

Here are many more positive messages to say, text, or write to your grandkids.

Expressing High Value

This can mean speaking words of blessing, but it also includes other ways of showing what your grandkids mean to you. You can write letters, send texts or emails, even put positive comment on their social media posts. And their importance to you should also show up in your priorities and decisions. You show up to support them in their pursuits and make effort to keep in touch regularly. They can tell from watching you that you’re crazy about them.

Looking Toward a Special Future

I mentioned this above, and it’s one of our unique opportunities that we should not take lightly. We can cast vision for our grandkids’ future. It’s almost like a prophetic role we can play in the family. It can be as simple as telling a granddaughter, “You have such a sensitive heart. I wouldn’t be surprised if you end up helping a lot of people when you grow older.” Or saying to a grandson, “You’re such a good helper. That’s going to help you succeed in a job and especially at home.” It can be a tough world for kids, and we can help plant seeds of hope and give them a promising outlook for what is ahead in their lives.

A Long-Term Commitment

John Trent calls this “active commitment,” probably because it’s important to not just say we’re committed to our grandkids, but show it in our actions. Some of the best examples of this are grandparents who step up to help care for their grandkids, either several days each week or raising them full-time. We want what’s best for them, and we’re willing to do whatever is necessary for their well-being. We really are there for them, whatever they need and whenever they need it. We’re ready and willing to take action for their benefit and their future. We get to know their hopes and dreams, and then we find ways to help them grow in those areas and fulfill those dreams.

Grandparents, I hope we can all strive to be experts at blessing our grandkids in each of these ways.

Which of these five is a strength for you? In which area do you need to improve? Share some insights and encourage other grandparents at our Facebook page.

Giving blessings is one of the main points in Dr. Ken’s longer article about meeting our grandkids’ emotional needs. Read more here.