What do you remember about your grandparents? Some memories hit close to home; flooding you with warm memories. Other memories turn your stomach into a knot. Were your grandparents a positive or negative influence?
Think of your grandparents in terms of musicians.
- Did any of them resemble a heavy metal band because they did lots of screaming?
- Maybe one grandparent reminded you of a singer in a barber shop quartet who was always slightly out of tune and touch.
- But maybe you were privileged to have rock star grandparents.
I had exemplary grandparents. One in particular was a rock star. If there wasn’t a God in heaven to worship, I would worship him and his memory. He’s been gone for decades. Now it’s my turn. I’m the grandparent. I’m doing my best to become a rock star to my grandchildren.
Becoming a rock star to your grandchildren is a difficult task. Often you are separated by many miles. There is a huge cultural chasm to bridge. And yet, I know it is possible to impact your grandchildren in a positive way.
One of the ReFIRE principles is called Endowment and focuses on the concept of leaving behind a positive legacy. There is no finer legacy than grandchildren who will remember you as a rock star.
Here’s 5 ways I’m learning to become a rock star to my grandchildren.
1. Rock star grandparents affirm the parents.
You raised your kids. Let your grown children raise their kids. Rock star grandparents do not cross the line into parental territory. Know when to butt out. Make it a priority to back up the parents, not throw them under the bus.
It’s easy to undermine the parents of your grandchildren. Those grandchildren can become experts at pitting you against their parents. When asked your opinion about a parental decision, tread lightly. Refer them back to the parent. Rock star grandparents affirm the parents and will not work against them.
2. Rock star grandparents stay in touch.
Many grandparents live long distances from their grandchildren. Years ago this was a big problem because a rock star grandparent needs to be in touch. Technology now goes a long way to erase the miles. Cell phones and email can bridge the gap. FaceTime and Skype can make the miles melt away.
This is one of my personal challenges. As a parent I got caught up on completing tasks and not paying as much attention to my kids as I should. Now, decades later, the same is true in my role as a grandparent. I struggle to stay in touch.
But it is vital to have regular contact. Without it, you cannot have the influence you need to be a rock star grandparent.
3. Rock star grandparents find teachable moments and uses them.
Regardless of jokes to the contrary, the role of a grandparent is not to spoil a grandchild. Your role is to teach life lessons.
As a young adult I shared with my grandfather I had taken out a small loan and had fallen behind in repayment. My frustration started to surface. He cut me short and reminded me I had taken out the loan and it was my responsibility to pay it back.
If you hang out with those grandchildren you will find many moments in which to teach life lessons. This is your role. A rock star grandparent watches and capitalizes on teachable moments.
4. Rock star grandparents set the example because they know a grandchild is listening and watching.
You are being watched. Those two eyes and ears are paying attention. Your grandchild is learning life lessons when you are not even aware of it. And they are learning by how you live your life.
When you treat someone unfairly, curse at the preacher, steal a parking spot from a little old lady, or cheat on your taxes it might get back to your grandchild. They have an uncanny ability to know exactly what is going on.
Rock star grandparents live their lives carefully, attempting to set a positive example, because they know they are being watched.
5. Rock star grandparents work on their own lives so they can pass down an amazing legacy.
As a grandparent it’s time to start thinking about legacy. What will you leave behind? What will people say about you at your funeral? What kind of impact will remain in the lives of your grandkids because you were their grandparent?
If you take time to review questions like these, and answer them with care, you will discover the work ahead of you. Answers will reveal areas in your life you need to tweak, improve, or overhaul.
As a grandparent you have the potential to influence your grandkids in profound ways. They will listen to you, watch how you live, and learn from you. Be certain you are teaching them the right legacy lessons by how you live your life.
The important role of a grandparent cannot be overstated. You can impact your grandchildren in many ways. They are your legacy generation; the generation which will be here long after you are gone. And then it will be their turn to be a rock star to their grandkids. And when that happens, you will have done your job.