08 Jan Four Benefits of Grandparents

Dr. Ken Canfield will be coming to speak at the Straight Talk for Families: Grands Matter workshop on January 21 at the Overland Park Campus. You can register for this event here.

The common punch line is that grandparents are only good for spoiling their grandkids. That is part of our job, but we also provide a connection to heritage, a link to the past. As today’s families get busier and busier, I believe the influence of grandparents becomes even more important. And beyond the spoiling, there are some other great benefits of having a Nana and Granddad around.

  1. Grandparents provide another perspective.

When our kids were young, my father suggested that my son might have a crossbite, which was causing slurred speech. In the middle of raising five kids, we hadn’t paid that much attention to it, but the doctor confirmed what my dad said, and we took measures to correct the problem.

You also see this at youth sporting events and performances. While parents often go through highs and lows based on how their child is performing, we grandparents know from experience that children bounce back, a game is just a game, and we support them win or lose. We’re just happy to be out there watching the greatest grandchildren in the world.

  1. Grandparents are more relaxed.

We have time—or maybe we just make it a priority—to slow down and savor life’s simple pleasures, like time with our grandkids. And they do notice.

One child said, “When my grandparents take us for walks, they slow down for things like pretty leaves and caterpillars.”

Another said, “When they read to us, they don’t skip. They don’t mind if we ask for the same story over again.”

Kids understand that parents are busy and have a lot to get done. But we grandparents bring a different pace, and our grandkids thrive on that, even for short periods of time here and there.

  1. Grandparents are additional role models.

Children benefit from mature adults outside their immediate family who demonstrate character and virtues. In one of our surveys, we asked more than 800 people to reflect on their grandparents’ influence in their lives. One of the components that really stood out was this: my grandparents were an example, a model to follow.

What do you want to model specifically for your grandchildren? Remember, important values are caught more than they are taught. Grandchildren learn from watching your life even more than from listening to what you say.

  1. Grandparents help to transmit values and faith.

When children are with their parents, there’s often a struggle for authority, with rules to follow and behavior to correct. But usually it’s different with grandparents—especially in one-on-one situations. A grandchild can relax and be herself, with no competition and fewer expectations. She’s a better listener and, perhaps, more talkative. She may ask her grandparent thoughtful questions, like, “Grandma, when Daddy was seven, was he like me?” “Did he have to clean up his plate?” Or, “Grandpa, why did Aunt Julia get a divorce?” Recognize those as priceless opportunities to teach, affirm, and bless.

We can also use this unique window into a grandchild’s heart to plant seeds of faith. Once again, our modeling is key. We should give them plenty of memories of seeing and hearing us live the Word, whether we’re in prayer, attending church, reading the Bible, serving others, or talking about what Christ means to us. Our life of devotion can provide many reference points for their faith, which they will remember for many years, even after we’re gone.

This isn’t by any means an exhaustive list of the good things grandparents provide, but I hope you’re encouraged by these four. Continue to bring these benefits to your grandchildren at every opportunity.

Dr. Ken Canfield is founder and president of the National Association for Grandparenting and author of numerous books on fathering and family life. He and his wife Dee have five children and eleven grandchildren and live in the Midwest.