Stepgrandparents and money

Dear Grandparenting: I never got married or had any children. Then I met Roy and we hit if off. Now I am stepgrandmother for all of five months. Roy has three children and seven grandchildren. His wife died three years ago. Roy 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 all came to our house for Memorial Day weekend. I cannot say they really rolled out the carpet for me. I think they are sizing me up.

Roy has some money. He is a saver, not a spender. Roy bought me a brand new Ford. That was all his idea. Roy’s oldest grandson is 17. When I was in the kitchen in the breakfast nook, I heard the grandson ask his father who’s money paid for the car. The father said, “Dad did. Hope she doesn’t clean him out.” Afterward, I saw that same grandson shooting me looks and whispering to the other grandchildren.

I am not a gold digger. I worked for 41 years and saved up, too. I have not told Roy what I heard. I do not want to make trouble. Do you think Roy ought to know? If I do nothing, this might blow up and make things worse with my stepgrandchildren. What is your advice? Call me Anxious, Tampa, Florida

Dear Anxious: Your story combines two issues with the potential to create problems in any family. Money always ranks high on the trouble index, and we never underestimate the challenges of stepgrandparenting, especially in the early stages.

Trust is the problem, and that takes time. The older the stepgrandchild, the more time may be required to win his trust. Younger stepgrandchildren are likely to take their cue from their older siblings. It would be a mistake to come on too strong in the beginning, particularly since Roy’s first wife was such a doting grandmother. Don’t try to replace her. Be yourself. Your stepgrandchildren will also be influenced by their perceptions of your relationship with Roy. If it’s a good match, they should become more forgiving.

Does Roy have a need to know now? Probably not, since the reaction of members of Roy’s family is what one might reasonably expect. But should this persist, Roy will have to be the one to step up and straighten out his family. He might recommend they worry a little less about inheriting what’s his and a little more about earning theirs.


Whitey from Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, was having a money talk with grandson Frank Jr.

“It’s hard to make and harder to hold on to,” said Whitey. “You need to be a good money manager. Your dad will tell you that.”

“Mom always says she manages the money in our house,” said Frank Jr.

“Same here,” said Whitey. “Your Grandma thinks she’s the reason we’re not broke!”

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.