by Dr. Ken Canfield

In another article here at, Leland Griffin writes:

When I’m alone with one of my grandchildren, that’s when they are most “themselves.” There’s no competition with siblings and no consequences to worry about from their parents. That allows them to listen better and ask more thoughtful questions. When it’s just two of us, they are much more open to learn.

This captures a little bit of the special connection we grandparents can have with our grandkids. It’s widely recognized that we grandparents can say things that reach the heart of a grandchild like no one else’s words will. We’re free from a lot of the “baggage” that kids usually feel with their parents, and it gives us opportunities to encourage and teach them. We can offer wisdom and guidance—and be heard—and that’s an awesome responsibility and privilege that we must not take lightly.

We can also teach our grandchildren skills, share hobbies, and talk about our interests. We can create potentially life-changing connection points as we spend time with them cooking, discussing current events, woodworking, gardening, doing car maintenance, and any of hundreds of other pursuits. Even activities like playing board games, watching TV, doing puzzles, or analyzing the sports page (or sports website) can be rewarding. But we must not limit our messages to our grandkids to these topics.

Those can also be great times to talk about our faith, say something positive about their parents, share a hopeful vision for their future, or ask a deeper question about a challenge or an upcoming event in their life.

Here’s another way of putting this: we are like messengers from God for our grandchildren—communicating love and encouragement, providing comfort, bringing stability and confidence to whatever they might be going through.

Telling our grandkids about their heritage also fits into this. We can talk about those who came before them and the events that shaped their family, offering our perspective on the positives that they can build upon and the not-so-good things that they may need to overcome.

We have windows of influence on their lives, but once again, it all starts with a special connection.

Many of us find that pretty easy and natural with our grandkids. But if you don’t have that kind of relationship yet, make any necessary adjustments to try to encourage it. Your role as a mentor and angelic messenger can be powerful in your grandkids’ lives.

Imagine you were placed into your grandchildren’s lives to deliver a message. What would you tell them? Please join the discussion 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.