by Dr. Ken Canfield
What’s your main focus as a grandparent? We’re each unique people, so we’ll all bring some different things to the grandparenting party—and that’s a good thing. It’s great if your grandkids have four (or more) involved grandparents who all have their own different, positive approaches to the role.
Maybe one is passionate about teaching things to the grandkids. Another one is always thinking about moral and spiritual matters. Another wants to pass on traditions and heritage. Maybe another is trying to just spend as much time with the grandkids and give as much love as possible. These are all great things we can do, but often there are a few that get more of our attention.
One wise grandparent shared with me the two big goals he and his wife have as grandparents, and they’re worth passing along to you. The first is this:
Creating a place of safety.
As grandparents, our presence and our involvement help to create an atmosphere wherever we are. Are we positive and encouraging? Are things tense and uneasy? They definitely pick up on that.
We must not take for granted that we have a special relationship with our grandkids and opportunities to influence them through simple, everyday interactions. Many of us have more time in this stage of life to think about how to bless our grands. As people who are part of the family but not with them all the time (unless we’re raising them ourselves), we have a unique perspective on how each grandchild is growing and changing. Maybe we do things with them that no one else does, or maybe we’re able to listen and connect with them more easily than others.
Those kinds of relational bonds help to provide comfort and security for them.
We are also a connection to history.
We represent our grandkids’ roots, so they learn about who they are and where they’ve come from. We help to create a sense of heritage in their lives. We can write about that history, create audio or video recordings, or come up with another method. But we should find ways to preserve our stories as well as what we know about our parents, grandparents, even great-grandparents.
I strongly believe our children and grandchildren deserve a record of our past—including aspects that are physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. When children grow up knowing about their heritage, they are often more grounded and have a clearer sense of identity and purpose. Let’s all tell those stories and share that family history.
Even if our grandkids don’t seem to value that today, they likely will in the future. Maybe we can imagine our grandkids twenty years in the future, and let that guide what we share with them.
Whatever aspects of grandparenting are most meaningful for you, thank you for being faithful and doing your best. Keep enjoying your grandkids!
How are you contributing safety and history to your grandkids’ lives? What other parts of your role are you passionate about? Share your insights (and learn from others) on our Facebook page here.