I did youth work well before I became a grandmother. I have always enjoyed working with young people and I enjoy it even more as a grandparent.
My husband, Mark, and I love our grandchildren like we loved our youth ministry kids, but the trust we enjoy from our grandchildren is deeper because we have been with them throughout their lives. Teachers, coaches, and friends come and go, but we remain as a constant in their lives.
Our grandson Nikolai (we call him Niko) was more like a cat than a fish when it came to water. During his swimming lessons, he was so frightened that he would spend the entire lesson with his arms wrapped around the instructor’s neck. We observed that first-hand one day when Mark and I decided to surprise Niko and showed up at the pool. We watched from behind a glass window as Niko struggled with his fear of the water while his instructor tried valiantly to instill confidence in him. It wasn’t working. Then Niko saw Mark looking at him through the window and in an instant he changed!
He began to swing his arms into the water and really made an effort to do his best. He didn’t instantly swim like a fish, but he did conquer his fear. Just the awareness of Mark’s presence gave Niko the confidence he needed to believe that he wasn’t going to drown. Grandpa was there to save him.
Our daughter told us how much better Niko did that day.
For children, grandfathers can be an example of our heavenly Father: wise, loving, and always on their side! The consistency of a grandparent’s presence builds confidence in a grandchild and inspires him or her to do the right thing and do it well. We model staying power because of who we are. Age speaks!
An important part of youth work is being someone who creates self-confidence in young people. It was a source of joy for me as a youth worker. It’s an even greater source of joy as a grandparent.
Julie Kanitz is a grandmother of 4, lives in Milan, Michigan and told this story at the “Do It Grandly” seminar on March 16th at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Copyright © 2019 Grandly: The Strategic Grandparents Club.