Let’s call it parenting 2.0.
By Dr. DAN ERICKSON
I walked into the living room, looked into the sweet eyes of my daughter Shannon, and instantly she began to cry.
She seemed overcome with fear and her eyes gazed at the floor while tears streaked her cheeks. Through sobs, she said, “Dad, I’m pregnant.”
My wife Cathy sat beside me as Shannon’s sobs broke my heavy silence. I sat there bewildered as the waterfall of thoughts rushed through my head. My daughter had recently graduated high school and was beginning her walk into adulthood.
Travel weary, I had just returned from training in Denver, after recently being appointed as Promise Keepers’ regional director for the Northwest. I was just 44 years old, and a pregnant teenager was not part of my five-year plan.
Thankfully, my heavenly Father quieted this inner turmoil and not a word of it was breathed. In a still small voice he spoke to my sprit: “Tell Shannon what I have told you time after time. This is part of my plan for her life and I am with her. This child will usher in the beginning of a new and rewarding life for you and Cathy.”
It must have been an extended time, because my wife, Cathy, shook me out of my bewilderment when she said, “Say something!” I expressed to Shannon our commitment to be there for her and her baby. I told her, “There was a God in heaven who loved her unconditionally and there was a dad on earth who did too.”
God was right! It began a journey of grandfathering that changed my life. I have to admit that I was a preoccupied father. I struggled with my own insecurities, seeking to please others, and I often lost sight of those people in my life that really mattered most. I often allowed the “whats” in my life to determine my identity and significance. This affected how I related with the “whos” in my life – my wife and children and now grandchildren. In many ways, through my grandchildren, I got a “do-over” and a fresh start.
Shannon gave birth to our first grandchild, Gabrielle, who we affectionately call “Gabby.” She is now 19 years old, going on 25, and working her way through college.
God allowed Cathy and I to become part of a moment in their destinies. That moment in 1994 could have gone quite differently. I realize now that God was testing me for he already knew what he was going to do. We’re currently up to seven grandchildren and I can’t imagine life without them.
I have determined in my heart and spirit, with the help of God Almighty that I will live a life that will leave a legacy, one that will echo now and for eternity.
Whether you’re a grandparent or not, you too can leave a legacy in the lives of those who matter most to you. Today can be the beginning of the rest of your life.
Maybe you can identify with me; you also need a do-over. I want to stir up and call out of every grandfather (and anyone else who is reading) the belief that they can make a difference, that they can leave a legacy through grandfathering.
We should not fear failure. We should fear that we would spend our lives succeeding at what really does not matter.
Imagine the possibilities!
Dr. Dan Erickson is the author of “Grandfathering: Live to Leave a Legacy,” due in early fall of 2014.