We love hearing about what works when it comes to grandparenting.
We had an opportunity to peruse a collection of hundreds of comments from adults about their memories with their grandparents. They include stories and examples of grandparenting dedication as well as lessons that have been meaningful as these grandkids have moved through life.
From this informal “research” about the influence of grandparents, we noticed four roles that were very prevalent. They probably aren’t surprising, but you may be challenged by this list, as we were:
1. Model integrity.
Since our influence over our grandchildren is, in most cases, secondary to their parents and possibly others in their lives, modeling may be the most powerful thing we can do. If we believe certain values and principles are important, then we should be intentional about setting a strong example in those areas.
Whenever we’re with our grands, we should assume that everything we do is under a microscope. What do your grandkids catch you doing? What are your actions teaching them about what’s most important in life? How does your modeling affect the way your grandsons will treat young women, or the way your granddaughters will relate to young men? If we walk what we talk and lead by example, we can help shape that next generation in a lasting way.
2. Establish traditions.
Whether during the holidays or other occasions throughout the year, traditions help to express our family’s uniqueness, and they help create anticipation and memories that can last a lifetime. As grandparents, we are often the keepers of traditions and family heritage, and it’s likely we’ll be the ones who need to lead the way.
We can’t force our children and grandchildren to embrace and continue the traditions that are important to us, but if we make them special and meaningful, chances are they will want to continue them. Just be sure that at least some of your traditions encourage discussion and togetherness.
3. Leave an inheritance.
This may not seem like the most important thing for grandparents to focus on, but it is a vital role we play. And this does involve money and property. If we take the necessary steps to ensure our wealth and material things are passed on smoothly when we are gone, that can go a long way to helping our children and grandchildren avoid a lot of hassle and potential discord.
But it’s really about so much more than material things. Maybe it’s helpful to think in terms of leaving a legacy more than leaving an inheritance. Consider ways you can leave behind shared values, worldviews, and family experiences. Seek to leave a legacy of relationships that are close and affirming.
4. Initiate celebrations.
Similar to being keepers of traditions, we grandparents should be all about celebrating the milestones and accomplishments in our grandkids’ lives. In a world where there are plenty of reasons to be annoyed or worried, make sure to look for and commemorate the good things. There are plenty of them if we’re looking for them. As grandparents, even the chance to spend a few hours with a grandchild is worth celebrating with a stop for ice cream.
Initiating these celebrations also includes finding occasions when the extended family can be together, whether that’s during a holiday, a birthday, a joint vacation, or maybe a regular family dinner once every few months. Be creative and find opportunities for these kinds of larger family gatherings. In many families, if we aren’t the ones to make it happen, it won’t happen. So we need to make it a priority.
Those are meaningful roles for grandparents, but only a small fraction of all a grandparent can be. What do you consider the most important part of your role? Leave a comment and learn from other grandparents on our Facebook page here.