by Dr. Ken Canfield

 

This past week’s tragic helicopter crash in California stunned many people around the world, and our hearts go out to the families of the nine who were lost.

As is often the case, some positive things are happening—largely inspired by the memory of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and the seven others. Many men are talking, posting and tweeting about the privilege of being a father of daughters, or a “girl dad” (#girldad). Maybe it’s time for all of us to jump in as “girl grands” or something.

As we reflect on tragedies around us, it’s appropriate to ask ourselves lots of “What if …?” questions, and maybe even make some “seize the day” commitments. What would that look like? I think of grandparents like Diane, whom I described in my book, The HEART of Grandparenting.

She is a school administrator who is counting the days until retirement. Every school day she helps educate several hundred children, and she often wishes she could be more involved with her grandchildren in the same way. But they live 900 miles away.

One day, before the school day started, a teacher walked by Diane’s office and heard her spelling the word water over and over and then using it in a sentence. Intrigued, afterward the teacher asked Diane what she’d been doing, and Diane explained: “Every Thursday before school, I Skype with my granddaughter, and we review her spelling words for her test that day. Even though it’s only for 10 to 20 minutes, I always look forward to that time with her, and it inspires me for the rest of the day here.”

Diane will often Skype with her daughter and grandchildren on weekends too. Every few months, she’ll travel and visit them for a weekend—a huge commitment of time, resources, and energy, especially since she often has to be back at work on Monday.

Even though Diane knows that retirement is on the horizon, her granddaughter will be this age for only a short time, so Diane looks for and seizes every opportunity to invest in her life.

Grandparents, carpe diem applies to us! We have certain windows of time to make meaningful investments in our grandchildren, and we should be as involved as we can at each stage of their lives.

And as Diane demonstrates, it doesn’t take a heroic effort—just a commitment to make those regular investments, whether it’s weekly Skype conversations, regular visits, volunteering to babysit, teaching your grandchild a skill, or taking a grandchild along when you have errands to run (and adding a stop for a special treat).

Or maybe it’s more about what happens when you’re with your grandchild: creating an atmosphere of encouragement and genuine interest in what’s happening in his or her world. With a little creativity and a plan, you can be a positive force in their lives.

How can you “carpe diem” with your grandkids soon? Please respond with a comment 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.