Being a grandparent is like feeling as if you're going to burst with happiness all the time. My 2-year-old granddaughter, Kayla, is the joy of my life. I'm wrapped around her little finger. (We were recently blessed with another granddaughter, and it's only a matter of time before she, too, melts my heart.)
See also: 10 things I love about being a grandma.
I had heard about grandparenting. My friends bragged about the luxury of enjoying their grandkids for hours on end, and then handing the little ones back to their parents for the feeding, diaper changes, and disciplining.
But when I'm with Kayla, I don't ever want to give her back to my daughter! I just want to hold on to her all day and night. My time with her gives me a new purpose, drive, and energy. It's like becoming a dad all over again.
I believe in the notion that a good man provides for his children's children. So I have a new ambition now to make certain that I'm providing not only for my daughter, but also for the grandchildren.
One other way I differ from some of my friends is that I will correct my granddaughter about certain things. Of course I do it with love, and I do it because I know it helps my daughter and son-in-law. But there's something more: Helping in that way gives me a chance to improve on some of the things that maybe I didn't do as well as I would have liked as a father.
For example, you can teach kids very early on about little things, like the importance of sharing, or that pitching a fit isn't going to get them what they want. You're not being mean just telling the grandkids, 'No, you can't have it right now,' or, 'It's time to go to bed.' Those are some of the little things I could have done better as a dad.
As I watch my daughter interact with her children, I have to consciously remind myself to take a back seat. Usually she's doing the right thing. Although like most grandparents, sometimes I say, "Isn't it interesting? You're trying to teach her something that you fought me tooth and nail about when I tried to teach you!"
But it's important to remember that my daughter and son-in-law have their own rules in their house, and I have to respect their way of raising their kids. It can be hard when they're doing something differently than I would have. I can be there for support if they ask, but it's not my role to intervene.
That said, I do hope I get the chance to impart two important life lessons on my grandkids: One is simply, "Love!," and the other is the concept of teamwork.
Children are more confident, stable, social, and happy when they grow up surrounded by love—love for them and love among all others in the home.
If we teach children to love, the planet becomes a better place for everyone. Those children will have higher self-esteem, and thus they will feel secure enough to make others feel good about themselves, too. There's an old saying that children can be cruel, but I find that children can be amazingly kind, sweet, and generous, too. That starts in the home.