Okay, if you’re not a grandparent, you can close this link and go surf the web, or use this time to play a video game. In other words, feel free to stop reading because this post is not for you.
However, if you have the honor and privilege of being a grandpa or grandma (which also includes Nanny, Poppy, Ona, Pa, Mimsy, Gramps, etc.), then read on because this might be right on for you.
As a young man, I never imagined my life as a grandpa. For decades, I was still trying to figure out how to be a dad. Then grandchildren happened. Again. And again. (I’ll spare you the other five agains.) I’m now up to seven grandchildren with another one on the way.
Only a grandparent can understand the joy I experience every day as Grandpa. It’s incredible.
I’m also learning a few things about my role as grandpa that you might find helpful:
Be the grandparent, not the parent. It’s tempting to take on the role in the lives of my grandkids that God gave to my adult children (the parents). As a parent myself, I learned a few things, but as a grandparent I sometimes inappropriately cross the line with my unsolicited parental opinions. Yes, I might know some things about raising children that my kids haven’t figured out yet. However, the best way for my kids to learn how to raise their kids (key concept—their kids) is for me to shut up and let them learn the way I learned—through life experience. Of course, on those rare occasions when your son or daughter asks for your thoughts, share them with moderation and humility (and try not to smile too much).
Be intentional about investing in your grandchildren. They don’t know it yet, but you’re a fountain of wisdom for your grandkids. Yes, times have changed. Yes, they certainly will be more technologically advanced by kindergarten than we ever will be. Yes, you might not be able to remember what you said yesterday, and you might smell funny. (They have no appreciation for Old Spice.) But there are timeless truths about human nature and life that you and I can and should pass along to the generations in our wake. By the way, showing them is even better than telling them; your life should speak volumes.
Know your role and embrace it with joy. A Psychology Today article identifies five types of grandparents: the formal grandparent, the fun seeker, the surrogate parent, the reservoir of family wisdom, and the distant figure. Whatever your role, rather than fight it, choose to make the best of it and accept your place with thankfulness and joy. My Grandpa Bubna was a distant person in my life, but my Grandma was a significant part of my early life. Both grandparents, however, had a lasting impact on me. It seemed they both knew their place in my life and they embraced it. As someone once said, “Be who you is or you is who you ain’t.” In other words, stop comparing yourself to others and simply be the best grandparent possible in whatever role and function you have in the life of your grandchildren.
Decide to be a learner, not just a teacher. No matter how old I am or how much I think I know, I want to be a lifelong learner. I want my children and grandchildren to see me as teachable—open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. The other day, I learned something about math from my nine-year-old granddaughter (seriously). She got a kick out of teaching me. I got to show her that Grandpa is not so old that he is cranky and set in his ways. If I want them to listen and learn from me, I probably ought to listen and learn from them.
Grandparenting truly is grand. My kids and their kids are an amazing gift to me—a gift I never want to take for granted.
By the way, I’ve concluded that my most important role is that of a praying grandparent. The last thing I want to be is a grumpy old fart who always complains, “This generation has no idea how good they have it!”
It’s simply best to pray. Pray for protection. Pray for your grandkids’ spiritual development and growth in wisdom. Pray that early in life they will fall madly in love with Jesus and that their future mates will, too.
And pray that someday, when they’re at your funeral, they will stand up and say, “Grandpa/Grandma taught me how to love God and live life.”
That’s my greatest hope as a grandparent. That’s the legacy I want to pass on to my children and my children’s children. What an honor.
Okay, time to put my teeth in and go love on my grandbabies!
“Grandchildren are the crowning glory
and ultimate delight of old age.”
Proverbs 17:6 (VOICE)