Dear Grandparenting: I never got married or had children. Then I met Dale. We hit it off and got married. Here it is five months later, and I am still trying to get the hang of this stepgrandmother business.
Dale has three children and seven grandchildren. His wife died three years ago. Dale says she lived to spend time with her grandkids.
I am still feeling my way with his family. They all came to our wedding, and then they came again to our house for a big dinner a few months back. It’s not like they rolled out the red carpet for me either. I guess his family is sizing me up.
Dale has some money. It was all his idea to buy me that brand new Chevy. Then I heard a grandson ask his father who paid for the car. “Dad did,” he said. “Hope she doesn’t clean him out.”
I decided not to tell Dale what I heard. Who wants to stir up family trouble? Do you think Dale should know? Because I do nothing, this money madness could blow up and make things worse with my stepgrandchildren and all the rest.
I am no gold digger, no way. I worked 41 years and saved up something too. What is your advice? Call me Anxious, Baltimore, Maryland
Dear Anxious: Your story combines two issues that can create problems for any family. Money always ranks high on the trouble index, the wedge that tears many stepfamilies apart. At its worst, money madness spreads out to poison everyone and everything.
Nor should one underestimate the challenges of stepgrandparenting, especially in the early going. Trust is the problem, and time is the cure. Younger stepgrandchildren are likely to take their cue from their older siblings, who in turn take it from their parents.
You have to earn it. Don’t come on too strong or make the mistake of trying to replace the one who came before. The family’s perception of your relationship with Dale is key. If it proves a good match, all can be forgiven. It can’t hurt to give Dale a heads-up on the situation. Should tensions persist, he needs to step up in your defense.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Chip Jones, of Marshall, Michigan, was waiting by the phone when his son called from the hospital.
“You’ve been promoted Dad. Great fathers get moved up to grandfathers, and you just joined the club.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.