With Father’s Day only two weeks away, I decided to focus my next few blogs specifically on grandfathering. To all you grandmothers out there, you can either ignore these next few posts, or you could ask your husbands to read them. So, ladies, I thank you for your patience as I speak to the men in the family for a bit.
Men, I think you would agree there are few things that compare with the excitement of becoming a father for the first time—though becoming a grandfather for the first time is right up there at the top of the list. I remember that day when I became a grandfather just before my 49th birthday. I was both excited and sobered by the realization that another generation of my own flesh and blood had arrived on the scene.
I also should admit that I felt a lot like I did when I became a father for the first time. Many of the same feelings about what it meant to be a father resurfaced when I became a grandfather. I was aware that this was a significant responsibility, but had no idea what was ahead or if I was prepared fulfill that responsibility well.
Solomon wise words in Ecclesiastes 4:12 – “A cord of three strands is not easily broken” – made me aware that I have a critical role in this new family triangle, but it didn’t explain what it should look like? What was to be my role in helping build a strong cord that is not easily broken?
Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children.” Though this passage obviously refers to an inheritance of material wealth, could it also mean more than that? Are material possessions all I am responsible to leave to the next generations?
Certainly, the wise man will take steps to pass on his material treasures God gave him to steward for His glory, but I knew that a worthy legacy must be built on stronger stuff. Now that most of my grandchildren are teenagers or young adults, I am even more aware of the significance of this heritage I am leaving to them.
In their book, The Heritage, Otis Ledbetter and Kurt Bruner define heritage as “the spiritual, emotional and social legacy that is passed on from parent to child… good or bad.” They suggest that these three components of an inheritance provide a connection to one’s past, an identity and security in the present, and hope for the future.
So, how do we, as grandfathers, make sure that the hertiage we are building for our grandchildren fulfills those criteria? I’d like to suggest three basic things grandfathers ought to do:
1) BE INVOLVED: Jump into your role with enthusiasm and expectancy. In a time of epidemic absenteeism by fathers, let’s not let that be the case for us as grandfathers. I know too many grandfathers who are content to sit back and let grandma do most of the engaging with the grandkids. Why would a grandfather do that? Why should grandma get all the blessings? You, as a grandfather, hold the key to a meaningful inheritance for your grandchildren. They need your example and involvement in their lives… more than we often realize.
What does it look like to be involved? Here are some ideas:
For young grandchildren:
- Read stories to them. Tell them your stories. If you’re not close by, check out LuvYaReader.com and record a book story or devotional to send to them once a month.
- If you’re physically able, romp with them on the floor. They love to crawl all over grandpa.
- Take them to the park, get some ice cream, or watch a movie with them.
- Little girls would love to have tea with their grandpa once in a while (yes, you heard me right… you can do this and enjoy it too).
- If they’re not close by, use Skype or FaceTime to stay in touch. Phone calls also work.
- When they are at your house staying overnight, take a break from your routine to read a bedtime story, pray with them. It’s also a good time to let them ask you questions or just listen to them talk about their day.
For older children and teens:
- f they’re close by, plan an occasional day out to do something they enjoy (movie, fishing, hike, go carts)
- If they’re not close by stay connected regularly by phone, text or messenger (ask them to show you how if you don’t know). Use texting to send words of encouragement, scriptures you are praying for them, and affirmation of their value and your love.
- Attend their sporting events, school plays and church events if you’re close enough.
- Send them an occasional card in the mail, not only for birthdays and holidays, but for no particular reason at all other than to tell them how proud you are of them, or to encourage them in their life journey.
The key to being involved is intentionality… a willingness to look for opportunities and sacrifice some of your time to take advantage of them. Remember that little things count for big impressions.
Next week, we look at a second basic way you build a worthwhile heritage. Remember, grandpa… you matter in those grandkid’s lives!