by Ken Canfield, Ph.D.

Here at Grandkids Matter, the tagline on our magazine and much of what we do is made up of four words that sum up our mission:

“Connecting hearts, uniting generations.”

Those words inspire me and remind me what I’m all about as a grandparent, and I suspect you share some of my perspective. So let me break it down a little bit:

Connecting hearts is all about the magical and rewarding relationships we have with our grandchildren. It’s making regular investments in their lives, encouraging them, making them feel special, and enjoying them as much as we can. It’s teaching them skills and going for ice cream and just hanging out on the back deck.

To build a stronger emotional connection with your grandchildren, I suggest you think about investments you can make in their lives that correspond with the past, the present and the future:

  • Recall some positive past experiences you have had with your grandchildren and express your appreciation.
  • Thinking about what their present needs require, give lots of encouragement.
  • Top it off with what you believe is important to their future. This is where we give our blessing, looking forward.

Remember: appreciation, encouragement and blessing. When you apply these elements regularly to your grandchildren’s lives, they will prosper and you will experience a surge of joy in the process.

Now, what do we mean by uniting generations? As grandparents, our role is about legacy. What are we leaving behind in terms of heritage and values? Are we doing all we can to get the extended family together, so there is a sense of unity?

One role we can play is to maintain connection points for our families. In our world, so often kids grow up and go away to college and then take jobs in who-knows-where. Life so easily takes us further and further away from our roots. But we grandparents can help maintain for coming generations the importance of being a family. So we coordinate schedules to get everyone together regularly, and we go the extra mile to prepare for those times and make them affirming and enjoyable.

And most grandparents know that uniting generations isn’t easy. There are hurt feelings and emotional baggage from years ago. Things get tense with our adult children, or a grandchild takes a difficult path, or there’s bickering between in-laws. We have to accept that life is often messy and find ways to be reconcilers. And that means sometimes we need to humble ourselves and seek forgiveness. It’s worth it to help unite the generations because it will be a big blessing to our grandchildren.

So, is this what you’re about as a grandparent, too? I hope so. And if you’d like to be part of something bigger and help us spread this message, you can join with us. Find out more details right here.