by Mark Gregston
What is a legacy?
Unless you’re a rockstar, a novelist, or some other celebrity, the chances that your name being remember through the ages is slim. When people introduce me, I’m often introduced as the “guy with the mustache,” or the “pie guy,” but I have to ask myself, is that really how I want to be known?
The bottom line is that there will be two places where your legacy is written: on your tombstone and on the hearts of those you love, so what do you want to communicate to them and what do you want to be remembered for through the ages? I know a lot of grandparents who think it’s their job is to parent their grandkids, but I’m here to tell you that’s not right. Parenting your grandkids is not your job. When I was younger, my grandparents weren’t really around, so it made me consider how I wanted to be looked upon and what role I wanted to take in our family. I decided fairly early on that I wanted my legacy to be one that is filled with hope, love, and wisdom.
Leaving a Legacy
Leaving a legacy is about connecting and creating relationships. It’s about getting to know your grandchildren and having a relationship with them. Grandparents are an important bridge to the past and a hope for the future. So, when my grandkids come to our house, I don’t correct them. They have parents that are capable of doing that. My job as their grandparent is to connect with them, love them, engage them, cater to their needs, and provide them with a safe place where they can feel heard and valued.
Our family has a group text system with me being the oldest—all the way to my six-year-old granddaughter who knows how to text me when she needs something or when she just wants to say hi. Leaving a legacy is about having fun with the future of your family. It’s about learning how to do things they enjoy and learning how to have fun with them. So many times, people take the attitude that they’ve “done their job,” when it comes to their kids, and that’s true, but your grandkids are not your kids, and it would be wise to remember that you are in a unique position to influence them in ways that their parents cannot.
Sometimes, grandparents have to step up and bridge the gap between generations as was the case for Abby, one of our Heartlight students who came to live us with recently. Her family sent her to Heartlight because she was angry all the time and getting into trouble. And when we got to the root cause of that anger, she told us it stemmed from a feeling abandoned by not only her dad, but her mom, too. Her parents were young when they had her, and Abby says that if it weren’t for her grandparents taking her in, she’d probably be living on streets right now.
Abby and her grandparents might be going through a trial and a test right now, but when they come out on the other side, her grandparents’ willingness to bridge the gap will be what turns the test they are all going through into a testimony and a legacy for the future.
Mom, Dad … grandparents alone have an amazing opportunity to leave a legacy of hope in your child’s life. This legacy is like nothing anyone else can provide to them, and a legacy is not meant to be measured by what your parents leave to the family through their bank accounts, but what they have deposited in the hearts of the next generation. God is keeping them around longer, so that they can influence their grandkids’ lives in ways that no one else can. This is an influence that can affect them for the rest of their lives, as well as yours, too. Let your parents make some memories with your kids before they lose the ability to do so. And allow them to be a source of encouragement and perspective to a generation that is desperately wants and needs the insights that only they possess and can share.