When two of my grown children recently had their own first babies, it confirmed something I’d known for years: Parenthood brings out the best in people. New parents feel the impact immediately, both emotionally and physically—the love bond that happens at first sight and grows stronger by the day, and the interrupted sleep and other schedule and priority adjustments. But there are also subtler changes that others are usually the first to notice—that special glow that God reserves for new parents and the maturity that comes from stretching and sacrificing to meet their baby’s needs, for example.

I was sure that bringing home a new baby would be my proudest moment, and it was each time. Now I would say that comes in a close second to becoming a grandparent, because each time that happens (I have 11 grandchildren) I’m doubly proud—proud of my new grandchild and proud of their parents.

So now that you know I’m a grandfather, you may wonder what grandfatherly advice I might have for young parents, so I’ll tell you. Besides the usual “big three”—love your children unconditionally, tell them often that you love them, and make quality time with them your top priority—I think one of the best things parents can do is to let their children be themselves.

If you’re like most parents, you want your children to excel. It’s good to try to help them reach their full potential, but there is often a fine line between that and expecting too much of them or yourself. Neither you nor they are ever going to be perfect, so learn to celebrate the successes and not worry about the rest. Strive for love and trust rather than perfection, and you’ll form lifelong bonds that will keep you together through anything. Happy parenting! And for those doubly blessed, happy grandparenting!