by Ken Canfield, Ph.D.

Do you set resolutions each New Year? Or do you regularly come up with goals in certain areas of your life?

It’s been well-established that goal-oriented people are more likely to achieve the good things they set out to do.

And there’s some wisdom there for grandparents. If our grandkids are important to us, then doesn’t it make sense that clearly-defined goals can help us better love and encourage them?

As a way of getting more specific, maybe it will help to think about your grandparenting using the five principles from my research, which use the letters of HEART. Consider each of these areas as you seek to be a more engaged grandparent in the New Year.

First, H is for Heritage.

How can you be more intentional about sharing with your grandchildren the life experiences and lessons that shaped who you are today? One idea: write each of your grandkids a letter that shares an important story from your life and why it’s important to you.

Second is your Example.

… because children need many reliable role models and you are an important one. I would challenge you to decide on a virtue that you want to model for them—like devotion to family or dignity despite difficulties—and be purposeful in the new year about showing them what that looks like.

Grandparents also have an Angelic influence.

This speaks to the comfort and protection we can provide as well as the spiritual guidance we give. One great action here is to ask your grandchildren often, “How can I pray for you?” Then be faithful in praying, and keep following up with them about that challenge or struggle.

The next one may be challenging but is very important: Reconciliation.

So many families have conflict and disagreement that pulls them apart and separates grandparents from grandchildren. Each situation is different and there are no easy answers, but one great goal is to become the number one supporter and encourager of your grandkids’ parents, even if there are great difficulties there. Take steps toward kindness and humility.

Finally, T is for Teaching.

Many times, the unique grandparent-grandchild connection gives us opportunities to influence them like no one else. I have two suggestions here you can choose from: 1) Share one of your hobbies or interests with your grandkids—assuming they show at least a little interest in it. 2) find something you’re both interested in and learn it together by attending an event or taking a class that focuses on that.

Okay – there are five areas to think about and some action points you can take, and I hope some other ideas came to your mind also. (Of course, you can see my book The HEART of Grandparenting for more.) But remember, it’s probably best to focus on just one at a time, so you’re more purposeful and more likely to follow through. Another great idea is to tell other people and give them permission to challenge you and encourage you along the way.

Do consider setting some goals for the New Year—and taking them seriously. Make sure you’re doing all you can to be there for your grandkids.

What do you want to do better as a grandparent this year? Please leave a comment on our Facebook page here.