Are you a step grandparent? Because of divorce, I am step grandma to more than half of my ten grandchildren. Six of my grandchildren have blood grandma’s- at least two each. I am the third grandmother but really never feel like the third wheel. I feel like all 10 are my grandchildren.
Right now I am in LA with 5 grandchildren, 2 blood twin siblings,my 14 month old grandsons, one step granddaughter ten, one step granddaughter fourteen and one blood granddaughter nineteen, plus a step daughter and step daughter in law. The boy siblings were not included as this is girl cousins weekend. The boy siblings step and blood siblings will have another event All the girls and Moms are going to Disneyland today with my blood daughter while I watch her twins. If this sounds complicated, it is. So is putting back together broken families
This has taken years building trust and love with my stepchildren with many setbacks. To the step grandchildren- it came easily. I love them as much as my 4 blood grandchildren.
It’s a confusing role with no script. As divorce a re-engineers American families, the chaotic remix mints more and more step grandparents. Two out of five American families now include a step grandparent.
You are coping with the crazy quilt of the modern family. It’ truly like the TV comedy Modern Family , a satire on the real experience, minus the step grandparents who should be added to the cast. You’ve got the that American family or the Brady bunch on steroids.
Think of this like blending families when your adult kids first married. You have the original blueprints. With the extended family, you have no blueprints and you have to build a metaphorical room for your stepchildren and step grandchildren and make sure your blood grandchildren’s room gets retrofitted.
Being a step grandparent is about love and action – not blood. So here are some tips
about putting that love into action.
1. Relationships grow over time. Don’t expect your step grandkids to love you instantly and the same with you.
2. Stepfamilies are born of loss- help step and blood grandchildren heal. Spread unconditional hugs and acceptance over every part of this new family.
3. Conflict is normal in stepfamilies- Use listening skills, don’t criticize, encourage talking openly, and back the parents’ rules and expectations.
4. Spend one to one time with each grandchild and step grandchild.
5. Focus on the needs of the children, not your wishes for the relationship.
6.Find out what you step grandkids like-and get it- what they do and do it with them.
7. Think equal- if you have six steps and four bloods like me- get equal gifts or give equal time.
7. Know your part in the play-you are the supporting cast, not the star of the show.
8. Stay in the moment- does not pry into the past.
9. Go to all special events – be that supportive cast.
10. Cheer for their accomplishments – don’t be a critic -be the support system.
11. Create join events and rituals – that’s what we are doing today and will repeat next year- it works.