by Ken Canfield, Ph.D.

“You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

“A penny saved is a penny earned.”

“Many hands make light work.”

“Nothing good ever happens after midnight.”

“Pretty is as pretty does.”

“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”

“Take time to smell the roses.”

“Trouble shared is trouble halved.”

Did you ever hear your grandparents say any of these? Or maybe your parents?

Every family seems to have a collection of much-used sayings. I undoubtedly made our children sick of a certain adage or two through the years. Some would consider statements like these mere clichés, but if you drill down a bit, you’ll find some real wisdom. They tend to be short and memorable enough to stick with us for many years—and that goes for our grandkids too.

One great thing about a wise saying that stick is that it’s easy to remember the saying even if we don’t yet fully appreciate the truth behind it. Maybe years later we’ll go through a rough patch, and that old maxim will come to mind. Or maybe the memory will come alive when you hear Grandmother’s voice or find yourself at the place where she said it.

Also, these maxims can convey nuggets of wisdom in a few words, so there’s less chance we’ll bore our grandkids or make them feel like we’re preaching at them.

What simple truths—like the examples above—have made a difference in your life, your thinking, and/or your character?

There is great value in those everyday pieces of wisdom, but we can’t stop there when it comes to teaching our grandchildren. If you’re a person of faith, there is added depth when the bit of wisdom they remember us speaking over and over is from the Old Testament book of Proverbs. Discussing those proverbs may be one of the best things I’ve done with my grandchildren. I’ll start talking about a particular verse or nugget of wisdom, and pretty soon we’re having a longer conversation about it.

Here are some examples:

Proverbs 28:19: Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.

Proverbs 15:2: The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.

Proverbs 12:19: Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.

Proverbs 16:8: Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.

Proverbs 15:32: Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.

See what I mean? Honestly, you could pull out just about any verse from the Proverbs and find a truth worth talking about with your grandchild—possibly explaining some things to a younger child. Also, if you can include a story from your life to illustrate the point, that truth can come alive and have an incredible impact on your grandkids.

Bottom line, we all want to impact our grandchildren positively and leave a legacy with them.

We want to teach them important principles for life as well as let them know more about who we are and what we believe. These kinds of proverbs and maxims can help us accomplish both of those goals. Maybe it’s time to start (or restart) using these tools with your grandkids.

What are the sayings and proverbs that mean the most to you, that you have shared or would like to share with your grandkids? 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.