What will you pass on to your grandchildren?
What legacy did your grandparents leave you? You might be thinking of specific things: did they leave you a financial bequest, a special piece of jewelry, a set of dishes you use for holidays? Maybe a passion for cooking, or a love of show tunes? But think some more—are there values you learned from your grandparents? Did they pass on wisdom or habits that have served you well? Or maybe there is something you saw in them that you knew you didn’t want to repeat, like prejudice or patterns of abuse?
A grandparent’s legacy can be either positive or negative—in fact, it can be both. From one of my grandmothers, I learned generosity and to appreciate life’s beautiful things. I also learned that those things were no substitute for the people in my life, something I’m not sure she ever knew. Even as a child, I understood that she wasn’t the best role model for me when it came to how to value the people you love. Truly cherishing family was a part of her legacy to me, because I saw her sometimes fail to do it. That didn’t change how I felt about her—children are especially good at forgiving faults in the grown-ups in their lives.
Today’s grandparents will have longer to form a legacy for their grandchild than our own grandparents did. We are living longer, and modern technology makes it easy for even long-distance grandparents to be part of a child’s everyday life. This gives us the opportunity to have a lasting impact on our grandchildren’s values, and makes it even more important for us to consider what that legacy will be.
Our grandchildren are learning more from us than we think. Yes, they are learning how much you love and value them when you shower them with love and affection. But they are also noticing that you say mean things about the neighbors who always park their car in front of your house and the people who voted differently than you did. They see it if you don’t respect their parents—the way you sigh about their silly rules, or roll your eyes behind your daughter-in-law’s back. Is this part of the legacy you want to leave?
As you think about what your legacy will be, think about more than your dishes and love of cooking. Take the time to consider if you are truly passing along the values and beliefs you want your grandchildren to remember you for.
Want to really ensure your legacy? Your Grand Vision, part of New Grandparent Essentials, guides you through a step-by-step process for considering and implementing your legacy. Find out more!