“Stepgrandparents are much more important in the blended family system than they – or we – may realize.”
– Artlip, Artlip & Saltzman (1993, p. 174)
Most newlyweds don’t give a whole lot of thought to the issue of grandparents when forming their stepfamily. Yet grandparents can throw just as many wrinkles into the situation as your partner’s ex. Some grandparents may have liked the original union and thought it was a mistake to divorce, and therefore they punish you by rejecting you and your children. If grandparents are not on board, they can make things difficult for everyone.
The good news is that 55% of respondents felt that their mothers/fathers had treated biological grandchildren and step grandchildren fairly equally. Yet a more revealing statistic emerged when comparing successful blended families to unsuccessful ones. In successful stepfamilies, 67% reported equal treatment by grandparents. In those with ongoing problems, only 33% of grandparents were seen as fair. (ibid)
Getting grandparents on board
- Make it a point to introduce grandparents to both the stepparent and stepkids so that they can get to know each other. Try to arrange for some one on one time between stepkids and their grandparents.
- Keep in mind that many grandparents simply may not know how to respond to this situation. Even those that want to get involved may not think it’s their place to do so. Be sure to invite them into your children’s lives and outline what you hope/expect of them.
- If they are new to grandparenting, and especially if you have small children, go over basic safety aspects and childproofing tips. Since it’s been a long time since they’ve had little kids around, this is something many grandparents need a refresher on.
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