Submitted by Shirley Cress Dudley
1- Treat all children the equally and fairly
Treat your step grandkids as if they were all your biological grandchildren. They are waiting and watching to see if you will be fair to all. If your biological grandchildren call you “grandmother”, then invite your new step grandchildren to call you “grandmother.” If you hug your grandchildren when you see them, then hug your step grandchildren, too.
Dispense with the “biological” and “step” labels as soon as you can. Even keeping these labels in your head may cause you to treat your grandchildren unequally.
2- Remember and Recognize Special Days
Acknowledge birthdays, school events, and any other special activities of your new step grandkids. At the beginning of each year mark all special events on the calendar. You may even want to purchase birthday cards or gift cards all at once. That way you are fair to all and don’t forget anyone.
Don’t forget your new daughter or son in law, too. Remembering them with a card on their birthday will help show your support for the marriage. Share information about your family history or family recipes to help your daughter or son (by marriage) feel a part of your family.
3- Express interest in each child
Make time to learn about your new step grandchildren: their activities, friends and hobbies. Figure out what makes each child unique. These endeavors will help you feel more comfortable around them, and help you get to know them.
4- Don’t reminisce about the Past
Your adult child has divorced and moved on to a new marriage. Recalling the good times in their old marriage is not going to help with blending the new marriage. Take the old wedding photos off the wall and put them away in a special album. It’s O.K. to keep these pictures, but do not display the old marriage partners on the wall for everyone to see when they visit you.
When your adult child calls and wants to talk about their frustrating moments in their blended family, but don’t judge or say anything negative that you’ll regret later. It’s very difficult to blend a family and requires a lot of patience. Support your son or daughter as they try their best to be a good parent and spouse in this new blended family.
In conclusion– remember it’s your job to love all of your grandchildren and support your adult child and his/her spouse in their new blended family. It’s a little new and unfamiliar at first, but well worth your efforts. You will have the reward of a bigger family to love you back.
Shirley Cress Dudley is a licensed professional counselor with a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Counseling, and a master’s degree in Education. She has a passion for helping blended families grow strong and be successful, and her book, Blended Family Advice, has been touted as the ultimate must-read for couples contemplating or undergoing such change.