by Dr. Ken Canfield

When it comes to becoming the grandparent your grandkids need, there are no quick and easy answers. I wish I could provide you with a simple formula that you could put into practice today or tomorrow, and it would instantly make everything great with your children and grandchildren.

The closest thing I can recommend is called The HEART of Grandparenting, where the letters in “heart” stand for five key aspects of your role. I have summarized them here and of course you can get a lot more in my book that shares that title. But I’m the first to admit that grandparenting success doesn’t work that way. There’s no “quick fix” when it comes to bonding with our grandkids. It takes time, and that’s okay because we grandparents are in it for the long run.

Positive, faithful grandparenting isn’t created in a day or three straight days of time together with your grandkids. Part of the definition of “faithful” is the notion of consistency over time. There definitely can be streaks of fantastic moments with our grandkids, but the deeper connections grow through the months and years as we demonstrate our love and reliability for them.  

Especially in situations where we haven’t been able to see our grandkids very often, we may have the best intentions to be a bigger part of their lives and make an extraordinary effort to be there for them. Those are great steps and positive signs, but they won’t really make a difference unless we keep it up the next opportunity we have. And the next. And the next.

Most of us have been around long enough to appreciate the “long game” of life, where the best things are often earned through hard work, commitment, and perseverance—again, things that require consistency over time.

Relationships with grandkids are like Rome—they can’t be built in a day. But we would all be wise to start now as we create or continue good habits with our grandkids.

How would that look for you? Maybe it means making a commitment to invest regularly in your grandkids, whether it’s weekly online conversations, regular visits, volunteering to babysit, teaching your grandchild a skill, or taking a grandchild along when you have errands to run—and adding a stop for a special treat. The key word there, of course, is “regularly.” And “commitment” is pretty important, too.

Find meaningful ways to invest in your grandchildren, and keep it up for as long as you can.

What’s one way you can be more involved in your grandkids lives? Please share your ideas with other grandparents on our Facebook page.