Big picture – the job of a grandparent is to give lasting gifts to their grandchildren. Some may immediately think this is an invitation to shower grandchildren with “stuff.” It is definitely not that. The gifts I am suggesting are long lasting and unique to you and your family. They don’t wear out, become obsolete, or get buried among all the other “stuff” that grandchildren may receive.
In order to be intentional about such gifts, I have actually made a list of the things I want to give to my grandchildren. It is subject to change as I mature and as my grandchildren grow and develop, but I share it with you as it is right now.
I invite you to make your own list. It might be for your own grandchildren or any children that you care about and for whom you play the role of a grandparent. Thinking about what you received from your grandparents or didn’t receive but wanted may help you construct your list.
1. Let them who I am – my view of the world, how I see myself and others, what I value in life, and how I became the person I am today.
2. Share family stories of when their parents were children.
3. Teach them a skill such as singing, making Christmas cookies, or playing Mah Jong.
4. Encourage them as I see their special interests and talents blossom – celebrating both what they can do now and what they will be able to do with more experience and practice.
5. Enjoy them and make sure they know how much they mean to me, not because of what they can do but just because they are who they are – my wonderful grandchildren.
6. Invite them to do things they don’t usually do with their parents – select material at the fabric store, repair a broken household item, select a piece of furniture or a painting for my house, make a new dish for dinner, etc.
7. Laugh with them now – lots and lots of laughter – and remind them often of all the past times we shared laughter.
(Inspired by “The Jobs of Being a Grandparent,” Jean Illsley Clarke, WE, January-February 2012.)
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