Grandparents and Step-Grandchildren

Portrait of multi-generation familyThe following will describe some of the ways why there may be a difference between biological grandchildren and step-granchildren.

One of the things is how old the child is when they come in to your life. If they were young, as my grandchild was at two years old, I can’t see that there should be any difference. But if they are fifteen, it will probably be much more difficult for both you and the child. Children in their teens are not as quick to accept as a two year old is. Also there may be extenuating circumstances such as resentment of their biological parent’s new family. This will not help to pave the way for a good grandparent/grandchild relationship.

Also, if they do not live with that biological parent, it makes it even more difficult for a grandparent to establish rapport with their new grandchild. Especially if the biological parent they do live with is negative about the child becoming too close to the new family, and particularly if it extends to a grandparent.

But whatever the relationship that the step-grandparent has been able to, or not be able to establish, it is absolutely necessary to treat all children equally. If a gift is bought for one, a gift must be given to all, and of equal value.

It may be more difficult to be demonstrably affectionate with both biological grandchild and step-grandchild if the child is standoffish but some kind of an effort should be made. He may not want the affection initially but in time he may feel more willing to accept it.

It will be important, however not to push yourself on a child until he is ready to accept you. But in any case overtures should be made even if it is just a pat on the hand, a squeeze on the shoulder and a smile.

It will be important for them to feel that you consider them to be one of your grandchildren too.

They should also be included in any scheduled events or holidays instigated by the grandparent. The decision may be theirs not to attend but the invitation should be sincerely given.

Another thing that will make a difference is the grandparent’s relationship with the new spouse. If it is not good, the new spouse may discourage your involvement with their child or even, although hopefully not, your involvement in your biological grandchildrens’ lives.

Being a grandparent can sometimes be a bit of a tightrope walk anyway depending on the various relationships involved, but being a step-grandparent can be even more difficult with a new and older step-grandchild. But the most important things to remember when in this situation is to be fair, loving, accepting and interested in your new grandchild.

Having said that, love does take time to grow but it shouldn’t take away from behaving in a loving way with the child. And being fair is the all-time important thing to remember. Children will pick up on unfairness immediately and it will be difficult to get on good footing with them if they have perceived that your treatment has been unfair. Bottom line is, children are children no matter whose they are, and they all deserve to be treated equally and lovingly.


Sylvia-Behnish_307294Sylvia Behnish has published a non-fiction book entitled ‘Rollercoaster Ride With Brain Injury (For Loved Ones) dealing with the first year following a brain injury, and ‘His Sins’, a three generation family saga. Her third book, ‘Life’s Challenges, A Short Story Collection’ is due out shortly.She has also had numerous articles published in newspapers and magazines on motivational topics, family issues, brain injuries and travel.

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