Grandparent worries that son is too busy for his kids

Q: I love my adult son and am very proud of him. But I think he works too much and seems too busy for his own children (my grandkids). What can I do to help this situation?

Jim: This scenario places you in a delicate position as a grandparent. On the one hand, you may feel your child’s priorities need some adjustment. On the other, it’s important not to use that issue to drive a wedge between your grandchildren and their parent.

For example, you don’t want to attend your grandchild’s soccer game and say, “It’s too bad your dad can’t show up for your games. But I’ll be here for you.” That comment will only set the child and the parent at odds with each other.

Instead, try to be a bridge. Say something like, “I’m sorry your dad couldn’t make it today. But I’m thrilled to be here to watch you, so I can tell him all about how well you did.” Words like that will help protect their relationship until, hopefully, the parent comes around.

The bottom line is you love your grandkids and your child. As a grandparent with years of life experience and wisdom, you can play a subtle, but important, role in their relationship. If your adult child still has some growing to do as a parent, strive to be a bridge between him and his kids. Over time, the insights you have developed throughout your own life can hopefully benefit all concerned and be a positive influence in drawing them closer together.

We have plenty of help available for parents and grandparents at

Q: Our son is just starting school. We expect him to get good grades, but also want him to develop character. How can we encourage him in both areas?

Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting and Youth: If asked which is their top priority for their kids — good grades or good character — most parents would probably answer “good character” right away. But research shows your child’s academic achievement may be more important to you than you think.

In a 2014 study conducted at the Harvard School of Education, 10,000 junior high and high school students were asked whether their grades, their happiness or their character was more important to their parents. Eighty percent of the children said their grades or their happiness was a topic of conversation much more often than their character. That should make any parent stop and think.

These topics are important. But character wins out in the longer perspective of life. And when it comes to the workforce, researchers find emotional intelligence to be a better predictor of job success than academic intelligence.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with encouraging your children to bring home a great report card. But will you cheer them on when they reach out to a friend who’s lonely, or when they show patience toward a younger sibling? Help them recognize the value of being truthful and the maturity of accepting responsibility for their mistakes. And make sure to notice and celebrate their hard work at school, even if they don’t end up with a 4.0 GPA.

As parents, we have incredible influence in our kids’ lives. So it’s vital to remember that children learn far more by how we act than by what we say. If you applaud them for their academic performance, make sure it’s balanced with celebrations and awareness of their character growth as well. Take time to notice when they display respect, compassion, patience and kindness toward others, and they’ll be much more likely to prioritize those life qualities and repeat the behavior.


Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at or at