by Dr. Ken Canfield

What does the new year hold for you? What new possibilities are you looking forward to?

Yes, even us “seasoned citizens” can and should be making plans and setting goals and trying to grow in specific ways. And I hope you’re always in growth mode when it comes to your grandkids. Just as they are always changing, we all need to adapt and find new ways to invest in them and their future.

And that’s it—the big insight for this week that I hope you will extend into this entire year:

Find one more way to encourage, support, or connect with each grandchild.

I’ll let you determine the best way to carry this out. If you’re like me and you have ten or fifteen grandkids, then it might be a challenge to focus these efforts on each one on a regular basis. On the other hand, if you have three or four grandchildren, maybe your goal could be to try something new once each month or every few months. Or maybe you see this as a calling in your life and you want to make this a constant pursuit, where you’re always looking for new connection points with each of your grandkids

I don’t want to put an extra obligation on your schedule, but I believe it’s worth some effort to discover new territory with your grandkids. For many of us, it’s easy to settle into a routine as the years pass, when there may be ways that our influence could be much more strategic and powerful.

What are some examples of this?

It isn’t so much about doing new activities with your grandkids or taking them to a park or restaurant you’ve never visited together—although it could include those things. Instead, think about pursuing a new goal or playing a new role in your grandchild’s life.

  • Maybe there’s a skill you can teach, and you can set up regular times to do that together.
  • If your grandkids are young, you might simply make a commitment to take on a larger role in caring for them on a regular basis.
  • Become a tutor to help a grandchild in a school subject in which he or she is struggling.
  • Make it a goal to help each grandchild find books they love—provided by you.
  • If you’re concerned about some of the messages that people in our culture are embracing, you might be in a position to have regular discussions over coffee or frozen yogurt.
  • Be more purposeful about sharing your heritage. Maybe figure out times to show your grandkids old photo albums or tell stories from your younger years.

The possibilities can be as unique as your grandkids’ interests and the special relationship you have.

So try it soon. Think about each of your grandchildren—what they are going through and what adjustments and milestones are likely just ahead for them. Or reflect on the legacy you would like to leave, how you want to be remembered. Then try something new to help you move toward that goal.

What ideas come to your mind for this? What’s something new you can add to your grandparenting toolbox? Share and compare ideas with other grandparents at our Facebook page here.