Here at HomeWord, we often address important parenting issues. But what about grandparents? What role do grandparents play in the lives of their grandchildren? I’m sure the roles can vary greatly from grandparent to grandparent, but I know there are grandparents who have a passion for leaving their grandchildren with a wonderful legacy and are intentional about investing into their young lives. I’m not a grandparent myself – yet – so I can’t address the topic firsthand. But, some time ago, I had a great discussion with authors, Bob and Emilie Barnes. They embody this passion for influencing their own grandkids. They’ve written a wonderful book, 101 Ways to Love Your Grandkids. It’s full of practical ideas! In the book, the Barnes’ write of four different legacies that grandparents can pass along to their grandchildren: the legacies of memories, faith, life and love.
Let me provide you with a brief explanation about the areas of legacy that the Barnes’ address.
The Legacy of Memories
Sharing or creating memories gives your grandchildren the gift of “you.” Share stories about your life, about your childhood and teenage experiences. These stories let your grandchildren know about who you are and who you were. They create a sense of history and heritage. Even if your grandchildren don’t fully appreciate your stories now, it’s likely they will later in life, and thus creates that legacy of memories. Spending time with your grandchildren is also important—in a variety of life’s settings—as these times will create memories that stick with your grandchildren. I often call this the “Power of Being There!”
The Legacy of Faith
The greatest legacy you can leave your grandchildren is the gift of faith. Model your faith to your grandkids, letting them see what the Christian life looks like in real life. Talk about what faith in Jesus Christ means to you. Engage your grandchildren in discussion about spiritual issues. If you’ve been a believer for a long time, express to your grandchildren the ways your faith has changed, been challenged and has deepened over the years. Throughout the years, as your grandchildren mature in faith, they will develop an increasing gratitude of the heritage of faith that you have contributed!
The Legacy of Life
The Barnes’ make note in their book that the characteristics of real life are based on the fruit of the Spirit, which are found in Scripture in Galatians 5:22-25. The characteristics are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. In your interactions with your grandchildren, anything you can do to model, speak about or praise these characteristics invests in driving these principles deep into their hearts, creating a desire for a Spirit-led and Spirit-fed life.
The Legacy of Love
Loving your grandchildren now will have a powerful influence on the kind of person they will grow up to become. Loving your grandkids doesn’t mean that you have to buy expensive gifts! Ultimately, the best demonstration of love you can provide is by your presence and involvement in your grandchildren’s lives. Give them the gift of yourself! This is possible even when you’re not physically present through phone, notes, emails and the like. Love is powerful! Loving your grandchildren will make a lifelong difference! Never underestimate the power of a grandparent’s love!