Are you a grandparent? Then Mark Gregston’s new book should be on your required reading list. There may be no better resource on the unique contribution of grandparents to their families than Leaving a Legacy of Hope: Offering Your Grandchildren What No One Else Can.
The title may seem a bit generic, but the content is not. Gregston – himself “Poppa” to four – offers insights that are both practical and profound. His wisdom is grounded in the Scripture and seasoned by three decades of running Heartlight Ministries, a Christian residential counseling center for struggling teens. No doubt, his long career dealing with difficult teen issues has forged Gregston’s admonitions into valuable counsel that is long on realism, love, and humor, and short on sentimentality.
Gregston wants grandparents to understand the costly influence they can have in the lives of their children’s children, especially as they traverse the teen years. That relationship requires that grandparents focus on encouragement, listening, laughing, and being interested in what’s important in their grandchildren’s lives.
In one of his most insightful pieces of advice, Gregston writes that as their grandkids approach the teen years, grandparents must “switch models of influence from teaching to training.”
For example: Quit doing everything for them; allow them to make their own decisions even if they risk failure; ask more questions and give fewer answers, and stop lecturing and start discussing.
Leaving a Legacy of Hope teaches, challenges, rebukes, and may even offend in its honesty, but the author consistently presses grandparents to make the most of their time and relationship with their grandchildren, even when facing difficult issues like their own death.
It’s the kind of book that can drain a yellow highlighter. Consider “some things I’ve [Gregston] learned about connection with grandkids”:
- Connection is more than just a relationship (Why, anyone can have that!); it’s a conduit for providing hope and direction.
- Connection is not just making sure you have a great Christmas pic of all your family to send out to friends.
- Connection is not measured by the number of pictures of your grandchildren you post on your social networking sites.
- Connection is not just appearing to have a relationship; connection is having the relationship that is measured by two-way effort to remain engaged with one another.
- Connection is not an opportunity for correction.
- Connection is a mutual love for one another established because a grandparent determines to pour life and love into a child who longs to be connected with family.
For the sake of your grandkids: Get this book. Read this book. Live this book. The matter is urgent because we’re not getting any younger.
Leaving a Legacy of Hope is available at heartlightministries.org or from booksellers.