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Step-Grandparenting

While divorce and remarriage are becoming increasingly common in the United States, so is the role of the step-grandparent. You are a step-grandparent if: you married or remarried someone who already has a grandchild, or your child remarried someone who already has a child. Your new role, level of participation, and acceptance into the family can be both exciting and stressful.

A positive relationship with your step-grandchild may depend upon the following factors: timing, the age of the child, and the relationships among the adults. As a step-grandparent you must also be careful about forcing a relationship onto your step-grandchild or step-family. Don't give up on a relationship if your step-grandchild seems distant; just act as an available friend when he or she is ready.

Understanding Yourself

First and foremost, try to understand your shifting role and how you feel about this by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Are you enthusiastic about the new role, or do you see this as a burden?

  • Are you too involved with other grandchildren to maintain a lifelong and meaningful relationship with your step-grandchild?

  • What does your partner and step-family think about your involvement with the grandchild?

  • Do family issues hinder your ability to build a relationship with the child?

These important questions will help you decide if you are ready to embrace this role with your new family.

Understanding Your Step-Grandchild

Some seniors without children or grandchildren are eager to forge bonds with their new step-grandchild; however, your grandchild might not be interested in a relationship with you. Your step-grandchild may not be emotionally available because he or she is having difficulty accepting a step-parent or step-siblings-do not take this personally.

The age of your step-grandchild may also determine how receptive he or she will be toward you. Generally, the younger the child, the easier it will be for him or her to accept you.

Try not to give up on your step-grandchild, and understand that building a relationship takes time. Positive or negative bonds among the adults in the family may also affect the relationship your step-grandchild has with you. Outdoor activities can be a great way to start bonding.

Understanding Your Step-Family

Parents:
Make sure the parents, especially the step-parent, approves of your relationship with the child. Never criticize the parenting skills or style of your new son or daughter-in-law, and try to be there for the parents when they need to talk.

Other Grandparents:
If your step-grandchild has a strong bond with his or her biological grandparents, respect their relationship. If your step-grandchild is spending copious amounts of time with you, this may prompt jealously from the other side. Promote harmonious relationships by communicating with the other grandparents about gifts or spending time with the child.

Navigating your way through these relationships will require tact and kindness! If you have other grandchildren, be sure to treat them equally, too.

 


 

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