We need more grandparents highly involved and making key investments in their grandkids’ lives. We should be spending a lot of time thinking about them and planning ways we can encourage and bless and challenge them. We should be praying for them and for their future every day.
As grandparents, we have a very important and strategic role to play. We make a difference! Being excited about our grandkids is a good thing.
However, our lives should not completely revolve around our grandkids.
That might seem like a contradiction, but there are some very good reasons why we need to find a balance in our various roles. Here are three of those reasons:
Other people need us too.
If you’re married, your spouse is still the most important person in your life, and he or she still needs your best effort and attention to maintain a strong marriage. Even if you’ve been married for forty or fifty years and it feels like you’ve settled into a routine, there are ways to keep things fresh and exciting, and keep growing your relationship and enjoying life together—and it’s well worth your time and energy to do so.
Whether or not you’re married, there are other non-family members in your life who need your friendship and encouragement. (And you need theirs.) As grandparents, we all benefit from swapping stories and insights, joys and challenges. Don’t neglect those relationships and opportunities.
We need other pursuits and interests.
We all need a bigger purpose that drives and motivates us. Our grandkids qualify for that, but there should be more. Some of us have full-time jobs, or it could be a particular cause where we’re investing significant time and energy. We might volunteer at our church or a local charity, take on a part-time job to keep us busy and contributing to something worthwhile, or even start a new hobby that we enjoy with friends.
This isn’t about finding ways to avoid your grandkids, but rather living your best life, which includes lots of involvement with your grandkids. And you’re modeling what the second half of life is like, what it means to be an older person and a grandparent. And you’re creating lasting memories that they will continue to draw from as they grow and mature.
Their parents might need some space.
Involved grandparents benefit parents in many ways, and in most cases our grandkids’ parents are gatekeepers for our grandparenting. If we’re going to be involved in our grandkids’ lives, then we’re probably also involved in their lives. And if it seems like our only fulfillment in life comes as a grandparent, that can put extra pressure on them—as if they’re the ones responsible for meeting our need to spend time with our grandkids. They probably don’t need that added burden during this stage of life.
Be sensitive and keep communicating about all this with your grandkids’ parents, because every situation is different. Some parents are eager for every bit of help you can give and are glad to have you around for just about everything. With others, there’s a limit somewhere that you’ll need to navigate with them. Be difficult to offend and keep offering your support and encouragement whenever you can.
Our grandkids are very important to us—and they should be. But they shouldn’t be everything to us. We’re well-rounded people who love being grandparents and enjoy many other pursuits as well.
How have you found a balance between involvement in your grandkids’ lives and other life pursuits? Share insights and connect with other grandparents on our Facebook page.