So many people think their legacy starts the day they die. I see it another way. Don’t wait to leave a legacy. Start living your legacy now. You can actually live your legacy and love it along the way. Why wait until the end to leave a legacy and miss out on it? One very important way you can live your legacy if you are at a more advanced stage of life, is through grandparenting. Intentional grandparenting. Grand-parenting on purpose.
Several years ago, my wife Linda developed a three-hour class she teaches to young parents in our community. She calls the class, “Parenting on Purpose.” More recently, we developed some new material for grandparents. We love grandparenting!
We have four grandchildren: Analise (9), Rylee (5), and twins, Noah and Haley (22 mo.) We think they are the best! Don’t all grandparents think that about their grandchildren? That’s normal. That’s good. That’s the way it should be. But, we also grandparent on purpose. And, that’s not so normal. We find that most don’t even think much about being intentional about their grandparenting. Let me share four purposes that Linda and I have for our grandchildren.
1. To influence our grandchildren in their development of a personal relationship with God. Our goal is that our four little ones will choose to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. We are already seeing that goal realized. I, and her grandpa on the other side of the family, had the privilege of baptizing our nine year old granddaughter a couple years ago. What a joy! She was publically declaring her relationship with Jesus.
We all desire our children/grand children to develop loving, unselfish character traits. The foundation for a healthy “character” is a relationship with Jesus Christ. What we do and say, day-to-day, can shape our grand children’s perspective of God. Tell the stories of God’s faithfulness and the miraculous acts of God in your own life. Point out where you see God currently at work in your life or in the lives of others. Make opportunities to connect them to spiritual truths via church, reading, concerts, etc.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is our guide on this first purpose: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”
2. To reinforce the truth that our grandchildren are God’s treasured and unique creation. Our goal is that our four grandchildren will each discover their unique God-given talents and use them for a life of significance—not just success. We believe they will discover their identity and purpose through a relationship with Christ. Psalm 139:1-18 gives the foundation. Other scriptures like Jeremiah 1:4-5 reinforce this belief. Ephesians 1:11-12 states, “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone” (The Message).
We always try to speak of, call out, and affirm the gifts and talents we see in our grandchildren. We have prayed intentional blessings out loud over them at various milestone events. We know that when our grandchildren feel valued, they develop healthy self-esteem. Self-esteem is closely tied to a child’s ability to discover his gifting and then grow in it.
3.To leverage our past experiences in teaching life lessons. Our goal is to make sure our grandchildren will see and desire the reality and blessing of making wise choices. We try to tell them our own life stories with honesty, integrity, authenticity and humility. We want our successes and our mistakes to become life lessons so our grandchildren will develop their own stories that hopefully include many more successes than failures.
King Solomon got it right in the Hebrew scriptures: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). That passage isn’t a money-back guarantee. And I’m thinking it is more descriptive than prescriptive. When I was a young parent, that was a sobering scripture. But as a grandparent, it is now gratifying and reassuring. I now get to see the fruit of, not perfect, but excellent parenting, which is leading to another generation of outstanding parenting. The future looks bright!
4.To leverage our current time and resources in creating powerful memories. We are trying to make sure our grandchildren will understand the meaning of life is not found in the “things” we are they have. Our goal is that they know they are more important than any “thing” in life. Therefore, we are extremely intentional to plan memorable activities with them instead of just giving gifts.
Three years ago, my wife and I watched our beautiful grandchildren tearing open Christmas gifts, setting them aside, ripping off the beautiful paper on the next one, setting it aside and repeating the fury until there were no more gifts under the tree. We reflected on that annual tradition and realized those gifts would just be added to a playroom full of other toys and eventually end up in the attic, or at a yard sale, or in the landfill. As an adult, I now can scarcely recall any gift received as a child from my parents or grandparents. But I have heaps of memories of special times, trips and traditions. We made a decision that day. We would be intentional about making memories instead of loading landfills. We would make time for what matters most.
Since that time, we have invested in a weekend together in the oldest city of America – St. Augustine, FL. We toured Castillo De San Marcos, as cannons and muskets were fired in reenactment by men dressed in colonial attire. We hired two horse-drawn carriages and explored the beautifully decorated historic sites of this quaint city. We all ate an evening outdoor dinner together at a nice upscale restaurant near the brightly-decorated, decked-to-the-hilt town square. Memories were made. I doubt if they can remember what gift we gave them, but our grandchildren can still tell you the names of the horses and the drivers from our carriage ride.
And here’s a few more examples: Chartered a boat to go to an island for a lunch; Held sleep-overs at our house; Built a fire-pit in the backyard for hot dog roasts and making smores; Took them one at a time on an out-of-town trip; Spent a week with them at a house overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the Oregon Coast; Dune buggy rides on the Oregon sand dunes; And bought tickets to Disney on Ice and we dressed up as Snow White and the Prince.
Now days, our grandchildren receive very few gifts from us. But instead, we use that money to give them the gift of time and an experience they will not soon forget. We are making time and memories for what matters most.
As a grandparent, are you being purposeful? If not, start now. Live your legacy. Begin with intentionality. Use the four purposes above. And, here are some additional great resources that Linda and I have found helpful.
QUESTION: What ideas can you add to help us all be more purposeful grandparents? Share them in the comment section below.