our everyday life

How to Be a Good Step-Grandmother

by M.H. Dyer, studioD

The role of step-grandmother is sometimes challenging because you don't have the built-in ties and long-term history of a biological grandmother. It's important to tread lightly and respectfully, preventing jealousy and hurt feelings as you learn to share the role with the biological grandmother. However, in spite of the difficulties, children benefit from the love, attention and special attributes of each grandparent. It may require patience, but in time, you can develop a meaningful and joyful relationship with your step-grandchildren.

Leave unpleasant memories and old enmities in the past. Don't speak unkindly of anybody, especially if a death or divorce is involved. After all, the biological family members of your step-grandchild are probably very important to her. Never try to take the place of another grandparent. Instead, forge your own special relationship with your step-grandchild.

Support the child's parents and avoid fault-finding. If you have problems with the parenting style, keep them to yourself. Your step-grandchild will benefit more from your love and nurturing than from slights and insults to his parents.

Allow the biological grandmother to have special time with the grandchildren. Be friendly, warm, supportive and enthusiastic, but don't worry about attending every school event or family gathering, especially if you know the biological grandparents want to be involved in specific event. Knowing when to step in and when to step out often requires intuition. Pay attention, and if you feel you're stepping on toes, take a step back.

Avoid competition with the biological grandmother. There is room for everyone in your step-grandchild's heart. Don't insist on a specific title if your step-grandchild and her parents prefer to call you by a more casual name or by your first name.

Spend one-on-one time with each step-grandchild to build your own fun relationship with each child. Read a book, bake cookies, plant a garden, visit a museum, go for a walk or play a game. Allow the child to suggest activities, but be sure the activity is suitable for the child's age.

Share your history. Talk about what your life was like as a child. Tell your step-grandchild about your memories of your parents or grandparents. When people shares stories with each other and get to know each other better, they create emotional bonds with each other. Inviting your step-grandchild to get to know you better, and taking the time to get to know him as well, allows the two of you to create your own relationship, bringing you closer together.

Create your own special traditions with your step-grandchildren. For example, if the children spend Christmas with their biological grandmother, plan a special event the following weekend. Use your imagination. Turn a family game night, pizza party or movie night into a memorable family tradition.

About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.

Photo Credits

  • Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images