Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Dr. Tim and Darcy Kimmel's  new book, Extreme Grandparenting: The Ride of Your Life, (Tyndale House Publishers, 2007).

As a grandparent, you play an important role in your grandchildren’s lives – so important, in fact, that your influence on them has eternal significance. Making the most of this opportunity to invest in their lives will lead to great rewards.

Here’s how you can become the best grandparent you can be:

Answer the call. Realize that becoming a grandparent isn’t just another season of your life; it’s a God-given calling. Take full advantage of the awesome opportunity to influence another generation of children in your family. Even though you likely have more freedom to live the lifestyle you want than your own grandparents of old did (better health, more money, etc.), you share the same responsibility to be committed grandparents. View your investment in your grandchildren as one of the best investment opportunities you’ll ever have, because it will pay off in significant ways that have eternal value. Don’t let the comforts and freedoms of an empty nest or retirement cause you to neglect your grandchildren. Don’t let other noble causes (like ministry work through your church) divert too much of your time and energy away from your grandchildren. Decide to stay connected, emotionally engaged, and personally involved in your children’s and grandchildren’s lives. Ask God to give you a clear understanding of the great potential good that could occur if you fully invested in your grandchildren’s lives.

Develop key assets. Ask God to help you develop qualities that will make you an invaluable asset to your children and grandchildren: maturity, experience, perspective, a willingness to help out, and decision to love unconditionally. Make a deliberate decision to learn from life and keep growing, especially spiritually (such as through reading and living out biblical truth). Use what you’ve learned to encourage and support your family members. Approach problems with calmness and hope. Be willing to help your children with your grandchildren by giving them time, offering them relief from their parenting duties for some much-needed breaks, serving as a sounding board for them to try out parenting ideas (without giving them unsolicited advice), and assist them with money in cases of true need, as God leads you. Love your children and grandchildren so much that you commit your will to their needs and best interests, regardless of the cost.

Model your relationship with your grandchildren on God’s relationship with you. Just like God does with you, show your grandchildren kindness, love, patience, and acceptance – no matter what they say or how they behave. Create a comfortable affinity between your heart and theirs by giving them grace. Grant them the same freedoms that God grants to you: the freedom to be different (by refraining from passing moral judgments on what they do or say that, while not biblically wrong, aren’t what you personally agree with), the freedom to vulnerable (by making it safe for them to share their doubts and fears, and to work on their inadequacies with you), the freedom to be candid (by making it safe for them to openly and honestly share their thoughts and feelings with you), and the freedom to make mistakes (by responding graciously when they do).