The holidays, Christmas, Hanukkah, and the New Year are just a few weeks away, and I think this is the perfect time to think wisely about our grandparenting, especially when you are not the biological grandmother to all your grandchildren. Are any of you embracing the step-grandchildren life like I am?
Naturally, I never dreamed that I would be what is known as a step-grandmother. But, then again, I never dreamed of the many experiences I have encountered in my life. I also never dreamed that my step-grandmother would be my guide on how to be a blender, not an ender. After 32 years of grandmothering my husband’s family, I can say in the most heartfelt manner they are mine, and I am theirs. Period.
There are many different types of extenuating circumstances in families where emotions run high. Quite frankly, as the wizened matriarch, I believe it is your role to rise above the fray and take the high road. Difficult, yes. Impossible, no. Think of the grandchildren, even if they are of adult age. Think about their adjustments. Disregard unkind comments from other adults or, in some cases, other step-grandchildren. Dance to your own drummer.
This is the perfect time of the year to be the best grandmother you can be. You are a woman over 50, and you get it. Now do it! This is the time of year of love, family, and togetherness. Remember, the greatest gift we give grandchildren is what we leave them in their heads. It matters not if you are from their bloodline; it matters that these children observe your attributes and love you.
A blended family is not a gift…IT IS AN ACHIEVEMENT! That’s why today I am sharing how to be an extraordinary step-grandparent.
I wanted to know when I started writing today’s musing, where the term ‘step’ originated. And I thought you would too, darling! In biblical times, a man would ‘step up’ and marry his deceased brother’s wife to carry on the bloodline. The term has since expanded to other members of the family to include step-grandparents, which is a term that, to be honest with you, I do not like! It sounds so cold, like the ‘steps’ in Cinderella.
And this ‘step-grandmother is anything but cold!
Nevertheless, though I am not the biological grandmother to the Good Family Grands, I am their grandmother. We are a happy and harmonious family. It took my tender loving care, their receptiveness, and lots of sleepless nights of thought-provoking options, and, thank goodness, the extraordinary role model I had to follow…my step-grandmother!
I profess with pride that my grandchildren and I are a happy group. We have traveled together, shared secrets with one another, leaned on one another, and have the utmost respect for each other’s feelings. These are guidelines I incorporated to earn their love and respect. This is how I became their ‘Honey.’
My Motto As a Step-Grandparent
As the matriarchs of our families, we have the responsibility to put our step-grandchildren’s feelings above our own. We have earned our Ph.D. in life. They are children. Also, it is important for the grandchildren to see devotion and loyalty between you and their grandfather. This gives them confidence in the new relationship, which will help with bonding.
Next, You Need Tolerance!
Most adult children will be skeptical of the new grandmother because it is not easy for them to invite a stranger into the fold. Whatever it takes, show tolerance. Put yourself in their shoes. Remember, once you gain a relationship with the grandchildren, the entire family should blend.
Pay Attention To Your Step-Grandchildren’s Life!
I text and, on occasion, Facebook them. When they need me, I listen to problems over the phone, and or we text. Always, I praise their successes. And, I never forget an occasion. When they were little, I sealed each birthday card with a huge kiss on the back of the envelope with my lips full of lipstick. When they traveled, I was their pen pal. One grand spent six months in Israel and another six months in China. The emails flew back and forth. I tell them I love them. As well, when we see each other, I shower them with hugs and kisses. Please don’t use the excuse that your family is scattered all over the country. Mine is also. In many states! You can still nurture them with your attention. It is only your time, grandmas.
Our role is to make each of our Grands feel special. I have figured out what makes each of my step-grandchildren tick. I know their needs, their strengths, and their weaknesses. How? I listen to them. Do you? When you accomplish this, the bond between you and your step-grandchildren will tighten.
Be an open book with your grandchildren. Show your vulnerability. Share secrets and never break your pledge of secrecy.
Participate In Your Step-Grandchildren’s Life!
Share holidays (have you already purchased their gifts?). Take family trips. Travel to their events if proximity and COVID-19 precautions make it feasible. Blend, blend, blend. We traveled to Paris and beyond into Normandy. In March we are off to Africa with three, possibly four grandsons. Three of the Grands traveling with us are Goods.
I am not a therapist. But I do know how to handle my family. I allow my maternal instincts to guide me. I worked hard and, of course, had trials and tribulations, feeling my way into the world of the blended family. It felt uneven at times, and I probably made mistakes. But I never stopped trying and I love each one of the Goods, including my daughter-in-law, Jami, to the moon and back. They are my family.
Do you have a blended family? If you do, what are your tips for becoming a successful step-grandparent and bonding with your step-grandchildren? Please let me know in the comments!