by Dr. Ken Canfield

Over the past fifteen years, I have become a grandfather 14 times. I’ve also had many opportunities to interact with other grandparents. Through it all, one thing has become so clear:

God has good reasons for giving us these mature years.

And those reasons aren’t about moving to warmer climates or traveling the world—although those can be good. Most of all, these years are for loving, building up, teaching and sharing our heritage with our children’s children. The best purpose for these later years is to invest in them.

And since there’s so much joy coming back to us as we do it, this is really one of the best times of life.

There’s actually research that backs this up and highlights a benefit that comes back to us. Several recent studies have found that engaged grandparenting may also help us live longer. Grandparents who provide occasional childcare for their grandkids were found to live about five years longer than those who don’t.

I’m assuming the word “occasional” stuck out to you, and that’s an important clarification: the study found that grandparents who take on the added stress of raising their grandkids full-time did not see that benefit of longer life. These devoted and heroic grandparents are really stepping up and making sacrifices for their grandkids.

There are many factors that contribute to longevity. As many of us know, the longer life brings some aches and pains and complications with it. I hope that, no matter what your grandparenting situation may be, you’re doing all you can to minimize any health barriers. Keep trying to see and affirm your grandkids in whatever ways you can, and enjoy helping out with your grandkids, knowing that it’s good for you—and it’s good for them.

When we get involved in their lives, that helps us stay young and healthy, our joy and satisfaction grows, and our grandchildren gain extra love and life lessons from their time with us. It’s a beautiful arrangement that continues to bless all parties involved.

And I know grandparenting isn’t all sunshine and roses for all of us. There are some very real struggles and heartaches for many. Still, I that doesn’t minimize this truth:

Grandparents, we’re here for a purpose, and it’s big and rewarding and important.

There aren’t very many people saying this, but please don’t believe anything different.

How do you view your life’s purpose during this stage in your life? Where do your grandkids fit into that? Please join the discussion on our Facebook page.