As grandparents, we are likely the best examples of a “mature adult” that our grandchildren will see. Of course, maturity has its pros and cons. Barring some tragedy, we’ll become frailer through the years and pass on before our children and grandchildren do.
And we are undoubtedly modeling more than how to cope with declining physical health. Anyone living this long will probably have to deal with relationship issues, emotional wounds, and possibly tough family situations. It’s likely our children and grandchildren notice not only how we cope with life’s physical challenges, but also how we deal with these relational and emotional matters.
And they can learn from watching us.
Here are some testimonies from adults after watching a grandparent’s strength:
My grandmother, who died when I was a teenager, always taught me what a great example of a godly woman was. She lived a hard life and raised eight kids on her own just by doing odd jobs in the church. I never heard her say a bad thing about anybody, even my grandpa, who cheated and drank and left when my mom was young. My grandmother always was a perfect example of how to live and have faith even in the hard times.
My grandmother literally came over on the boat, alone and as a child, during the war. She had nothing and no one. Through the years she lost a child and a husband, and he fought cancer, but she never gave up. Although not physically strong, she was strong as a woman, strong as a person, and the ultimate example of what a grandmother should be.
Being forthright about our difficulties in life—spoken about appropriately for a grandchild’s age and understanding—can allow the true strength of our example to be released.
When our grandchildren know about the trials we’ve endured, they are often inspired.
In some cases, even our weakness and humility might be a gift to our children and grandchildren: they may notice our vulnerabilities, see that they are needed, and step up to offer comfort or assistance. It’s also affirming to us to know by their actions that they accept us with our faults and frailties, and the relational connections grow even stronger.
Remember: you aren’t finished living out your story. Stay strong and diligent at whatever stage of life you’re in. You can model what it means to age gracefully.
How are you intentionally modeling strength and dignity for your grandkids? Share your thoughts and 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.