by Dr. Ken Canfield

One of the great privileges of our role as grandparents is to bless our grandchildren through our words.

Nancy is a devoted grandma who shared some of her secrets with us. One of them was this:

“Every time I see my grandkids, I hug each one and tell them they are so special.”

At first, that sounds like sound wisdom from a grandparent. But that simple statement could have a profound impact on your grandchildren. Imagine a child being able to count on and look forward to receiving a huge hug and loving words every time he or she sees you!

I know not all families freely express their thoughts and feelings. But if we want to encourage and instill confidence in our grandchildren, giving them consistent messages that say, “You are so special” is one powerful way to do that.

Grandparents, we need to speak blessings, prayers and affirmations over our grandkids regarding their character, their gifts, and their future.

Positive encouragement should never be held back, especially with our grandchildren. As my friend Charles Morton suggests, every time you think something good about your grandchild, say it to them. And it can be as simple as saying, “Wow, look at what you did!” Or, “I’m so proud of you.”

Blessings can be even more powerful when they are specific and tailored to the grandchild, or unique to your relationship with him or her. I suggest keeping some basic questions in your mind or on your refrigerator, pondering them often, and then simply sharing your answers in blessings you speak over your grandchildren. Questions such as:

  • What about your grandchild brings you joy?
  • What’s unique about him or her?
  • What skills or character qualities have you noticed?
  • What satisfaction do you feel from being his or her Nana, Papa, Grandma, or Gramps?

Have those kinds of questions in your mind whenever you’re with your grandkids, and blessings will likely start flowing.

It’s never too early to start this! Even if we’re speaking a blessing over a newborn that can’t understand what we’re saying, I believe he or she can still sense the love there, so we’re still creating a closer connection. Plus, it’s good for us! Those are the kinds of moments that help to solidify our own commitment and emotional bond to our grandkids.

Blessings often look forward—not to add expectations or pressure, but to cast vision for what they might become and accomplish. What positive things can you imagine for your grandchild’s future? What are your hopes and dreams for them? Think in terms of their character, values, and faith—because, if they get that part right, the rest will likely take care of itself.

And yes, these blessings can be prayers we pray over them. They don’t need be elaborate or drawn out prayers; simply express the gratitude and joy that’s in your heart and seek God’s best for them as they go about their day and find their place in the world.

Grandparent-grandchild bonds are unique and special. And one reason is that children can tell when they hold a special place in our hearts. They see the excitement on our faces; they feel it in our hugs.

And it should be motivating for us to know we can play that position in our grandkids’ lives. Maybe they’re in a large family, or their parents are very busy, or there’s been a divorce, and they don’t feel like there’s enough time, attention, and love just for them.

Maybe that’s why God put us in their lives. We can be that person who has plenty of time and attention and love, and we’re always ready to bless and encourage.

What’s your favorite way to verbally bless and affirm your grandkids? Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Part of this was adapted from Dr. Ken Canfield’s book, The HEART of Grandparenting. Find out more and get your copy here.