If I had to pick one thing that I regret about my childhood, without hesitation, I would choose not having spent more time with my grandparents. Although I did not see my grandparents very often, I do remember that my dad's mother had a great sense of humor. One of my favorite memories of my grandmother was when she read the three little pigs and then chased us around the house holding her false teeth, screaming: "All the better to eat you with!"
Since the birth of my daughter Taylor, it has been a privilege to watch her interact with my parents. I remember the first time my mother took Taylor out on a special date. When they returned home, my mother proudly informed me that she had taught Taylor how to blow "Raspberries" with her tongue. Having no idea what that meant, I picked her up only to get about three gallons of saliva sprayed in my face.
Furthermore, one time I left Taylor with my father so that I could go jogging. When I returned home, I discovered my dad sound asleep in his favorite chair. As I quickly glanced around the room for Taylor, I found her on a blanket with Ralph, my parent's Siamese cat, sleeping on Taylor's chest. Now I can understand what my parents mean when they joke about getting "even" when I have children!
It's so special to watch a child's face when they are with their grandparents. It's like the excitement kids seem to experience on Christmas morning when they first see the presents under the tree. As a father, I am thrilled that my daughter will have the opportunity to spend time with her grandparents. The best part, however, is watching my parents provide Taylor with a gift that will impact her life forever.
A Priceless Gift Any Grandparent Can Give
An essential aspect of quality grandparenting is realizing that you can provide each grandchild with a very special gift. The gift involves recognizing that the life style you live day in and day out is much more powerful than what you say. The experts are helpful, because they suggest that children learn more from observing what others do, than from what they say. If your desire is to have an impact upon the life of your grandchild, it's helpful to remember that he cannot hear what you say until he observes what you do!
Recently, I came across a poem called "Influence" that illustrates the incredible impact that a grandparent can have on his grandchild:
There are little eyes upon you,
And they're watching night and day;
There are little ears that quickly
Take in every word you say;
There are little hands all eager
To do anything you do;And a little boy who's dreaming
Of the day he'll be like you.
You're the little fellow's idol;
You're the wisest of the wise;
In his little mind about you,
No suspicions ever rise;
He believes in you devoutly,
Holds that all you say and do,
He will say and do, in your way
When he's a grown-up like you.
There's a wide-eyed little fellow,
Who believes you're always right,
And his ears are always open,
And he watches day and night;
You are setting an example
Every day in all you do,
For the little boy who's waiting
To grow up to be like you.
The Diminishing Role of Grandparenting
Children always seem to be searching for the right person to pattern their lives after. Unfortunately, in our society today it feels like the importance of grandparenting is diminishing. Instead of encouraging grandparents to give of themselves, our society promotes athletes, musicians and movie stars as "role models" for our children. Grandparents all across the country have paid a price, and the adversary has won a tragic victory.
As drug abuse, teen pregnancies, and divorce rates continue to rise, now more than ever grandparents need to reclaim their significant role. In doing so, it's important to remember that children do not expect a "superhero"--just you with all your encouragement, affirmation, and love. As I have long regretted the little time spent with my grandparents, I encourage you to become involved in the lives of your grandchildren before all they have left are a few memories.
Likewise, as a society we need to realize the great importance of grandparents. What an honor for any family to have a grandfather who shows his grandson what it means to be a man of integrity, or a grandmother who teaches her granddaughter how to be a Godly woman. It is for these very reasons that the Apostle Paul recognized the importance of modeling when he wrote in Philippians 4:9: "The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you."
The Key to Becoming a Role Model
The best way to become a role model is to imagine the type of man or woman you would like your grandchild to become someday. With the image of your grandchild in mind, in what specific ways does your life reflect those same characteristics and values you hope he'll have? Ask yourself: "What does my grandchild observe when he looks at me? Does she see a person who has integrity, honor and wisdom?"
I encourage you to create a list of the values that you hope will be a part of each child's life. During times that you're together, model those very characteristics so he can begin to, as the Apostle Paul mentioned, "practice these things."
For your grandchild, become a person who understands the importance of sharing love with encouragement, affirmation and involvement. The next time you see your grandchild, remember that in fifty years it will not matter what kind of car you drove, what kind of house you lived in, or how much you had in your bank account. What will live on for generations, however, is a simple, but priceless gift--you were important in the life of a child.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Sam Edwards