by Dr. Ken Canfield

I don’t know how things typically go in your family, but whenever the Canfield clan gets together, the days overflow with activities and traditions—especially during the holidays. Sometimes I have to remind myself about the true purposes behind all the activity: to celebrate as a family and build stronger bonds with each other. And for us, it’s ultimately about bringing glory to God.

That means, as grandparents, we can’t just go through the motions. We all believe grandkids matter and we long to be grandparents who matter. We want to pass a legacy of character and integrity to our families.

Unfortunately, that isn’t easy in today’s world. Families are complex, and often it’s hard to navigate the various situations that come our way. There are also many different forces competing for our attention—and especially for our grandchildren’s attention—that make it much more difficult to build close bonds with them. The social distancing that many of us have experienced due to COVID-19 added a new layer to the challenge.

There are factors working against us, and they underscore the importance of grandparents being intentional when it comes to our children and grandchildren. We should continue to pursue whatever opportunities we have with them, with an optimistic, never-give-up attitude. If we don’t, then the legacy we’re leaving won’t be as strong and meaningful as it could be. Friends, we can’t let mobile devices or gaming systems or the busyness of life take over. We need to be purposeful about orchestrating memorable time with our grandkids.

I would urge you to consider a big-picture idea regarding your legacy: transformational grandparenting. Relating to our grandkids is fun and rewarding, but we should also have higher goals and deeper significance in mind, and it should show up in our day-to-day interactions with them. How are we helping our grandchildren grow and mature toward adulthood? Are there skills we can teach or experiences we can give them that might be meaningful or open up new possibilities for their future? Those are the kinds of questions transformational grandparents are asking themselves regularly.

To get more specific, here are four questions to ponder as you think about the past year of your life:

  • How did you invest the bulk of your time with your children and grandchildren?
  • Did you pursue the things that are really important to those relationships?
  • What was the biggest obstacle that kept you from doing what was on your heart with your family?
  • What is one important goal you have for them for the next year?

A positive legacy is created over time, through consistent patterns of behavior, but it happens in the day-to-day choices and priorities in our lives. And again, we have to be purposeful about it.

For more questions to help you plan and build your legacy, you can download our free ebook, 25 Questions to Help You Capture Your Legacy, right here.

What regular habits do you have that will help build a positive legacy in your children and grandchildren? I invite you to join with other grandparents and share ideas and encouragement on our Facebook page.