Engaging Granddad, Part I


The grandparents' job is to foster an environment where their adult children can become the best parents possible.

I’m always quoting John Maxwell as saying, “Grandchildren are your reward for not killing your kids.” They are pretty special. But there’s responsibility along with that love and somebody has to be the first mover . . . someone has to initiate. If you’re Granddad, it’s on you first. If you’re the father, maybe these ideas will help you light a good fire under Grandpa to get him in the game with you and your kids. If you’re the grandchild, it may take you and your persuasive powers to engage Granddad in your life. So here we go . . .

  1. As grandparents, our job is to foster an environment where our adult children can become the best parents possible. We don’t take over. With both of my kids’ families, we’re working to define their family’s top five truths, values and priorities. My daughters’ and sons’ will likely be a little different and that’s OK. But my wife and I will rally behind what they want for their family, not what we dream up. People are far more committed to their own ideas than they are to yours. Our hope is we can come up with some activities and adventures to help “rub” those values into our grandkids a little at a time.
  2. Unsolicited advice will always be received as criticism. Grandparents have to earn the right to be heard and have input, holding your tongue more than using it.
  3. Grandparents are wise about who the enemies are. We’ve been around. Helping our kids and grandkids see those dangers without being the guy screaming about how “the world is going to hell in a hand basket” will shape our credibility and how much help we can be.
  4. Define “House Rules” for everyone. Grandparents are famous for enabling grandkids with unhealthy food, sleep deprivation, and violating just about every discipline parents are working to establish. This isn’t acceptable. Parents, grandparents and grandchildren need an “agreed-upon plan and process” everyone understands and lives under. We have to stop pandering to those cuties, even if it’s hard.
  5. Don’t fight culture; create new and engaging culture for your family. As I read this, I thought of how my son-in-law has created a new culture of music with our granddaughters. Lots of parents sign their kids up for music lessons . . . piano, guitar, violin, etc. That begins the constant nagging of “have you practiced today?” Recitals, pressure, duty, obligation, performance, all of that. Instead, Cary engages with his girls. He doesn’t just take them to piano; he goes in, watches and listens to the teacher so he can coach the girls through their assignments. He picked up the banjo again and began practicing 15 minutes each day, modeling initiative and diligence. At Christmas, EVERYONE plays a musical piece for the family, even if it’s just shaking a shaker along with “Joy to the World.” What he’s done isn’t perfect, but it’s a great example of creating new culture instead of bashing what’s pushing against your door from the world.

I’m “raising my game” with my kids and grandkids. Will you join me?

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