Are you a vital sounding board for your grandkids?

Some grandparents have that kind of relationship with their grands. For them, it feels natural to come to you when they have a question or problem that they don’t feel they can take to their parents for whatever reason.

We all understand that. Parents and children often have struggles for control. Maybe the child has behavior issues and the parents don’t handle it the best. Or they handle it fine, but the child still feels disrespected. Being a parent is hard, and sometimes it takes children a long time to figure out that the world doesn’t revolve around them. That combination often leads to tension or conflict.

Or maybe it’s just a matter of the child not feeling comfortable talking about something with a parent. Or maybe you just happen to be the one there with the child when something happens and the child asks a pointed question.

As a grandparent, you can listen and show love and give your grandchild ideas to consider without all the baggage that often comes with parenthood.

And assuming your ideas about life aren’t that different from the parents’ approach, you’re providing a huge benefit to that family. The parents trust that you’re giving the kids a message that’s consistent with theirs, and they encourage their children to spend time with you and ask you questions about life. It’s a win-win-win.

Here are two brief (and possibly obvious) things you can do to maximize your influence:

Spend Lots of Time with Your Grandkids

The more you’re together, the more likely it is that meaningful conversations and teachable moments will happen. And even if you don’t live close to them and much of your interaction is by phone, text, video chat or some other technology, invest the time to be an important part of their lives.

Build Strong Connections

Find ways to push beyond the surface interactions, so you really get to know them. What motivates each grandchild? What are their interests, their fears, their dreams? How are they growing their faith? Ask some of those deeper questions, and be ready to encourage them when you have opportunities. Also, when possible, be a source of comfort for them—even in the little struggles of life.

Ultimately, you want to be someone they can trust. Then, when they face something confusing or difficult, it’s likely they’ll think of asking for your perspective—whether or not they also ask their parents about it.

It’s one of the great privileges of being a grandparent—to express your support and love and offer some wisdom from your years of life experience.

What wisdom do you have to share on being a sounding board for your grandkids? Help other grandparents (and learn from them) on our Facebook page.