Christmas and Hanukkah may be your first holiday as a step grandparent. Maybe it’s a confusing role with no script or maybe you embraced it. 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.
The transition to a blended family has thorny hurdles. As a midlife parent, you cope with your own child’s divorce plus the cost to your grandchildren. On top of that, modern divorce, can move you, as it did me, to emotionally support your former son or daughter in law That parent will forever be in your grandchild’s life, so keeping them close pays off.
Then you have the connection with your adult child’s new partner. If that blooms then remarriage and you have two sons or daughters in laws. All the while you are coping with the crazy quilt new family .If the second husband or wife has kids -you become a step grandparent. Mix in your fellow grandparents in law and you’ve got the new American family or the Brady bunch on steroids.
Think of this like blending families when your kids first married. You have the original blueprints- you just have to build a room for your 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.
Find out what you step grandkids like-and get it- what they do and do it with them.
6. Think equal- if you have two steps and two 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- do 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.