This isn’t news to anyone, but being a grandparent is a blast. With three grandkids, ages one to seven, I have legit reason to attend every Disney movie as soon as it comes out, hang out at candy stores and regularly peruse the toy aisle at Target. The other day I strapped an enormous plastic bird beak to my head and knocked down cardboard targets with my granddaughter.

Nobody is making me do this. I do it because my grandkids love it, and if it makes their sticky faces light up, I’m all in.

But my job as ‘Mimi’ is bigger than just bringing the fun. It’s not just about doing and buying, but also about the things I can be in their lives. Here are the four things I’m focusing on being for my grandkids

Be an encourager

Not being the parent, I don’t have to focus on the dirty clothes they just abandoned on the floor or the homework that didn’t get turned in. I get the unique role of being a witness to my grandkid’s brilliance and putting words to it. And I don’t worry for one second about overdoing it. I see it as my personal role to load up their encouragement bank so that it is full for the moments when mistakes and discouragement will make withdrawals.

Be an advocate

Since their parents ARE the ones who have to deal with the messy room and homework issues, one of the greatest gifts I can give my grandkids is to be a champion of their home. Words like, “Your mom knows how smart you are, and that’s why she expects you to do your best in school,” or “I love the way your dad trusts you to clean up the kitchen” can help bring perspective in moments of frustration.

Be a storyteller

As a grandparent, I get the role of being the one who shares the family history as well as the one who tells secrets that don’t stay so secret. Like how their daddy earned the title “oil boy” when he dumped twice as much oil in the brownies as the recipe called for, and how he learned to play the guitar just because a cute girl he met (who he later married) liked the guitar. Stories make up the fabric of a family.  As a grandparent, I get to tell the ones that might otherwise go unspoken, the ones that weave us together, and tell of where we’ve come from and where we are going.

Be a strong foundation of faith

I’ll admit it, I’ve been around a while. But that means I have lived through many difficult moments and watched God show up in our lives. He showed up in times of uncertainty and loneliness and heartbreak. I get to share with my grandkids how God was with us then, just like he will be with us now. I want more than anything to leave a lasting legacy of faith.

To all the grandparents out there, don’t forget that you have a unique role to play. Find the ways you can widen the circle of support and influence for your kids and grandkids, and then go for it.