Most grandparents love that all they must do is love their grandchildren—then give them back. So I was surprised when I heard a grandfather express something different. He said, “I wish my children could have experienced the man I am now,” to which I immediately thought, “Me too!” But no matter what stage we are in as dads, it’s not too late to sharpen our grandpa skills.
When we wonder what makes a good father, we can learn a thing or two from grandpas, papaws, and papas. Luckily for me, my dad has always had qualities of a good grandfather, and not just his wearing of the calf-height white socks with shorts. In fact, he inspired what I believe are the 5 qualities of a good grandfather that dads should rip off.
1. More Patience
Most granddads aren’t as rattled by their grandchildren’s misbehavior. As dads, we often feel the pressure to instantly extinguish negative behaviors and character traits. But immediate timing is not always the best timing. Often, we need time for our brains and bodies to calm down to consider our best response.
2. More Delight
My “man’s man” dad is a delighted squish ball when he is around his grandkids. Every time he sees them, it’s as if he hasn’t seen them in five years. He lights up with a big smile and a huge hug. He thinks, no, he knows his grandkids are the funniest, most unique, intelligent, extraordinary kids on the planet. He thinks his grandchildren hung the moon. Try to convince him otherwise, and you will fail.
3. More Confidence
Granddads live in a way that communicates that “my grandkids are and always will be just fine.” Perhaps it’s grandpas’ distorted view of their grandchildren’s abilities, intelligence, and personality. Regardless, they believe in their grandchildren and their grandchildren know it. When I was growing up, my grandfather had 100% confidence that his Teddy was a great kid. It’s good for a kid’s very being to have someone as important as a grandpa think he or she is great.
When you wonder what makes a good father, look to a good grandfather.
4. More Presence
My dad loves watching his grandkids participate in any activity or sport. He hasn’t missed any of my daughter’s four years of high school theater productions despite living two hours away. He is not a big theater guy, unless his granddaughter is on stage. Then he’s the biggest theater guy there is. And it’s not just my kids’ activities that make him present. The man is present any time his grandkids are in his presence. He doesn’t say much because he doesn’t need to; his face says it all.
5. More Perspective
Grandads’ years of maturity tend to give them a better sense of what is important. Their perspective always seems to be communicating, “Hey, grandkid, everything is going to be OK. You are loved, you matter, and you are safe.” When you wonder what makes a good father, look to a good grandfather. Good granddads have more perspective, which allows them to have more patience, more delight, more confidence, and more presence; qualities of a good grandfather that fathers can rip off today.
Sound off: What qualities of a good grandfather do you wish you had more of and why?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Do you have any idea how much joy you bring me?”