Remember the days when you couldn’t wait to go to grandma’s house? She’d bake your favorite cookies, tell those wonderful stories and spoil you rotten. Grandma was seen and respected as the matriarch of the family; full of wisdom and unconditional love. Nowadays, grandma is seen as a distant acquaintance instead of a strong maternal figure on which her grandchildren can rely. Why? Divorce and remarriage creates many conditions for grandparents and step-grandparents and it’s important that blended families are made aware of this.
What divorced and remarried couples don’t seem to realize is that divorce and remarriage is hard on EVERYONE; not just them. It’s hard on any children involved and grandparents, too! All of these people didn’t have a choice when it came to the divorce or remarriage and the conditions attached to who and how they can love is completely unfair. Children are told how they can love their stepmother. It is implied that they can’t get too close to her because it might hurt the ex-wife’s feelings. By that same token, it is implied that their step-grandparents aren’t really their grandparents, so they shouldn’t call them grandma or grandpa. Grandparents are also given a bunch of rules and conditions regarding how they can love their grandchildren and step-grandchildren. Almost immediately, they are watched as if they are under a microscope, waiting to see if they will favor one child over the other; a common complaint in the blended family. Grandma and grandpa bring something for their biological grandchildren, but not their step-grandchildren.
There are so many conflicting loyalties that exist with a newly formed blended family that all the confusion gets in the way of the love. Children’s loyalties are divided between their biological parents and their step-parents. Grandparent’s loyalties are divided between the ex and the new wife and it is especially easy for them [grandparents] to allow this disdain to infiltrate into the blended family. It’s almost as if resentment sets in because now they are immediately expected to connect with children that they just don’t know, and there are so many rules regarding how they should build that connection. Divorced couples, including new spouses and old spouses, new parents and old parents, need to realize this and be more understanding of what everyone in the blended family has to contend with.
By that same token, grandparents, although it seems so unfair, there are some things that you need to be mindful of as well. Always be mindful of the fact that there are children involved and it is up to the adults, including the grandparents to lead by example. If your feelings are hurt, a bit of resentment has set it and you feel the situation is unfair, imagine how these children feel and put forth every effort to make the situation better for them. Don’t pull away out of frustration! Instead, let’s return to the days of old when grandma and grandpa were the glue that held families together. Who cares if the the wives don’t get along or the ex-spouses can’t communicate. Impart your years of wisdom and love on your family and NEVER partake in the “competition” that exists in most blended families. Below are more tips for grandparents and step-grandparents:
- The most important rule to remember is that there are CHILDREN involved and we should never take it out on them. Adults should know better!
- All children were created equal! Please don’t treat them any differently. I know it’s not fair and you didn’t ask for this type of family, but neither did they.
- Encourage your step-grandchildren to call you what your biological grandchildren do. It will make them feel more apart of the family.
- Don’t compete with the other grandparents and remember that your grandchildren will likely want to spend time with all of their grandparents; which means that your time will be limited.
- Don’t view the blended family as a temporary situation. Often times grandparents, because they don’t come from a generation of divorce, views the blended family as temporary and therefore do not put much effort into bonding with their newly formed families.
- If distance is a factor, remember it’s okay to call your grandchildren when they are with the custodial parent. Don’t feel like you can’t just because the ex-wife may not be getting along with the new wife. Their squabble has nothing to do with you!
- Remember your role in the blended family as it shouldn’t be any different than that of a traditional family. God has granted you with years of wisdom and life experience that your children (including their new spouse), grandchildren and step-grandchildren can benefit from.
- Don’t allow the bickering, divided loyalties and mayhem that blended family creates force you to go from being grandparents to distant acquaintances. Whether your children or grandchildren know it or not, they need you!!!