Dear Grandparenting: It was hard enough keeping my wits about me as the grandmother to five growing grandkids that are usually going off in five different directions. But being a stepgrandparent makes that look easy.
Both my daughters got married early before they had their heads on straight. Both have since remarried to men with children of their own. My daughters say it’s for the better, and they’re adjusting.
I have taken to liking their new husbands. To be honest, the jury is still out on their children, or more precisely my four new stepgrandchildren. After all, I hardly know them, and those kids are not exactly on a mission to impress me either.
This is a special problem for stepgrandparents. I think there’s just one solution. It comes down to this — blood relationships count more and always have. Thinking like that takes some of the pressure off me. I don’t like to play favorites, but my heart is with my biological grandkids. You might play it differently, but I’ll stick with being honest about my situation and let the cards fall where they may. Now it’s your turn. Bay Skinner, Quincy, Illinois
Dear Bay: Your letter resonates with millions who share your predicament. And if you’re not a stepgrandparent, stick around. The day may be closer than you think.
Look at the numbers. About 45 percent of all marriages involve a previously married individual, and nearly two-thirds of those remarriages involve children from prior marriages.
Some grandparents act like there are no steps in stepgrandparenting, immediately opening their hearts to the newcomers. But we suspect the majority is slower to warm, with a welcoming but wait-and-see attitude. One rule of thumb — attaching to stepgrandparents becomes more problematic as children mature.
Experts say a gradual open-minded approach that doesn’t force shows of affection or compete with other grandparents works best. We’ll add our two bits. You may not treasure stepgrandchildren right away, but you’ll lose them if not treated fairly and respectfully. Give stepgrandchildren an honest shot. Get to know them separately, maybe taking each on an outing or two of their choice. These things take time. Who knows? Save never for later.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Trace Anderson, of Everett, Washington, weighed in with a sentiment shared by countless grandparents:
“I wouldn’t change my grandchildren for the world, but I sure wish I could change the world for my grandchildren.”
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.