by Dr. Ken Canfield

As grandparents, we all need to embrace a multi-generational vision for families.

Sadly, this goes against what many American grandparents are pursuing. Too many of us are separated from our grandchildren by geography, and our culture in general is naïve to the power of the extended family system. The parents and the grandparents view extended family gatherings as a hassle, maybe as fraught with too much emotional baggage, and they don’t make them a priority.

Or, possibly because of all the baggage, grandparents might take the attitude of, Hey, I raised my kids; I’ve done my work and now I’m going to retire in peace and enjoy life. All at the expense of our grandchildren, who become a low priority in our “retirement plans.” I hope you agree that these attitudes are woefully short-sighted.

There is a big, important and, I would say, God-given role for us as grandparents.

And it’s bigger than just our situation or our individual families. I believe we’re entering a grandparenting awakening around our nation. And for any movement to succeed, it needs a compelling mission and vision.

So it’s up to us make our grandchildren a big part of our focus during this stage of life. We do everything in our power, utilizing whatever wisdom we have accumulated through the years, to help them succeed. We know from research that children are much more likely to flourish when healthy grandparenting is part of their lives.

We also know from testimonies that numerous adults today will talk about their grandparents as angels in their lives—people who believed in them, prayed for them, supported them no matter what, and were there to comfort and protect when needed.

So don’t ever underestimate your grandparent power, even when times may be difficult.

If our culture has downplayed the influence and impact a grandparent can have, don’t let that misguided notion sap your vision and passion. We have a unique and needed role to fulfill as grandparents, and we’re all about helping you make the most of that role.

It’s up to us to be available and willing to serve. (And it doesn’t hurt that our grandkids make it so much fun.)

What’s your vision for what a grandparent can and should be, and how are you living it out? Share some wisdom (and learn from other grandparents) at our Facebook page.