granddad workingSure, your grandkids may know the titles you carry in your work life—“architect”, “homemaker”, “retired”, “teacher”, “businessperson”. But do they know what kinds of work you have done.

I suppose I will never forget a time when my grandfather and I had the better part of a day together, as he drove me to a major city about 7 hours away. I must have been about 12 years old at the time. He chose that occasion to tell me about different jobs that he held, especially when he was younger. Although more than 30 years have passed since that day, I remember more than you may expect about the conversation.

We need to give our grandchildren a better picture of what the world of work is like. One study from the University of Chicago shows that many teens don’t understand the career paths that are open to them, and if they pick one, they don’t know how to get started.

So how can we as grandparents do a better job preparing our kids for the workforce?

Shellenbarger suggests we tell stories-and offers these helpful insights:

First, remember kids are less interested in your successes, and more interested in the struggles you face and how you deal with them.

Second, when talking about your work, throw in some dramatic touches. This is not to suggest that you should exaggerate, but your grandkids will tune in more if they understand the daily fight you face. Who are the people or groups opposing you? Who in the cast of characters is on your side? Flavor the stories with dialogue and details that illustrate human character qualities-good and not-so-good-without criticizing or gossiping about the people involved.

And third, remember that your children will learn from how you think about your work. Is it a passion, or primarily a way of providing for your family’s needs? Tell your kids about situations that you really cared about, the values that guided you to success, and what you learned through the challenges.

Grandparent, there are many ways we can prepare our children to be entrepreneurs, musicians, social workers, contractors, managers, technicians, teachers, or whatever God calls them to be-by relaying truths and attitudes they can’t get from a book, from school counselors or advisors.