By Ken Canfield, Ph.D.
Dad, do yourself a favor and watch this 3-minute video:
“Beginnings. The older you get, the more rare they become.”
“Endings are too often on my mind. I pray for new beginnings.”
This video challenges us to think about beginnings and endings. I have often challenged dads to imagine themselves near the end of life and imagine what will matter most to them then. Few men in their late years wish they had spent more time at the office or worksite, watching more sports on TV or playing more video games. No, most often they’re wishing they’d invested more in relationships, especially with their children.
Older dads pray for new beginnings because they messed up some things earlier in life, when they had less experience and wisdom than they do now.
Becoming a grandfather can bring a strong sense of new beginnings. Many of you know that I am leading a new organization called Grandkids Matter, focusing on the vital contributions that grandparents can make in families and communities. I have eleven grandkids myself and I can tell you, it’s a blast! There’s nothing quite like it.
But as I talk to and work with grandparents, one clear theme is that there’s a lot of complexity in today’s families, and being a grandparent isn’t all laughter and rainbows. Issues with our grown-up children—and sometimes issues with the grandkids—can have a strong influence on our opportunities and our satisfaction as grandfathers. This video captures that quite well.
So, if you’re an older dad, stay faithful to your children and do your best with them even as you look forward to those new beginnings of being a granddad.
For younger dads, this is your reminder to “begin with the end in mind.” It might be hard to imagine, but it won’t be that long until you’re a granddad yourself, looking back on a lot of good memories and surely some regrets in your fathering. Do your very best with your children today—because you want what’s best for them and so that you’ll have very few regrets in your later years.
Again, it’s difficult to imagine but very true: Right now, you are raising your grandkids’ parents. Build a close connection with each of them, and remind them often of your love and commitment—maybe with a small gift. Train them well. Don’t frustrate them. Give them lots of encouragement.