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Wisdom from the veteran Step-GP, a story or piece of advice for the newbies

ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

Hello all, there's some excellent wisdom and advice from veteran step-grandparents - your stories, advice, etc are needed.

As a new step-grandparent of 3 months I am proceeding with extreme caution but could use some solid advice. Back story is adult SS had a child with wife-

Positive: They are responsible enough- reached financial independence, finished their degrees and have stable jobs. 

Negative: They historically use me as a scapegoat for problems and set me up for no win situations.

Observation so far: I am expecting a ramp up of bad behavior based on past history - so far not the case. They could be too busy and possibly tired. 

What are some of the wisdom you have been through that you would tell your younger self?

ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

To note: reached financial independence but still tries to grab resources and money. Defintely has expectations of what we should be providing but we have remained clear on those boundaries and DH's favorite saying is "Well we'd like to retire someday so no we won't put a down payment on a house, or x or y." 

JRI's picture

I have 6 step-gkids, ranging from 16-31, plus 3 of my own.  Your situation might depend on whether BM is still in the picture.  My stepkids made it crystal clear that BM was the #1, official grandma.  That was fine with me.  I treated all 9, the steps and my own, alike as far as birthdays, Christmas, etc since parity has always been my step religion since DH and I got together.

So, I attended the showers, sports events, Grandparents Day at school and whatever else I was invited to.  I hosted annual Christmas cookie baking sessions for whichever were the appropriate age.    I had/have a pleasant relationship with the step gkids tho we arent especially close.

I hardly ever babysat, maybe twice.   I was working full time and DH and I had been maxed out by our 5 kids.  BM was still alive when the kids were little so she did it.  I find it interesting that, now that she's dead, the step gkids seem to reach out to show me pictures of their kids and talk about them.  I think they're missing a grandma's interest.

If possible, if I were you, I'd go with the flow, see how tbey act, seem if they're receptive to your interest.  It will probably depend on BM ( "I'm your REAL grandma",as ours said) and how your DH feels.  Is he like mine (" I've done my share") or does he want to be very involved.

Good luck!

Rags's picture

I'm not a SGP.  My parents are though. Our experience has been relatively drama free.  DW and I met when SS-31 was 15mos old and we married the week before he turned 2yo.   He is my parent's eldest GK.  My niece was born 5mos before DW and I married.  So SS is not mom and dad's first GK, but he is their eldest.

They accepted him immediately as their GK.  No differentiation between our 1 and my brother's three.  We made it a point not to use my parents as sitters for our kid. We never asked, not once. Mom was always stealing him when her other GKs were at my parents home.  She wanted all of her GrandSpawn present.

The historical drama you have with your SKidults sadly sullies your GP perspective to your GSkids.and it should. 

Even now with all of their GKs being adults, my parents do not differentiate between my SS and my brother's 3.  Though I would forecast that is about to change. My niece is due with the first GGK any day.  All 4 of the kids consider my parents home to be their home. When you ask them where home is, it is my parents home that is the answer.   We all spent years as Expats so mom and dad's is the home base.  So much so that my parents notified DW and I recently that they want us to have their home and their wish is that we keep it as our home and ... the family home.  My brother is very wealthy, I'm proud of him, and my SIL has no interest in my parent's home.  Though everyone wants us to move back to that area. We will.... eventually. Just no time soon.

I advise that you engage as a GP to your GSkids, keep that as separate as you can from your relationshio with your SKidult breeder SKids.   You cannot care more about being a GP to your GSkids than their parents are willing to allow.  Protect yourself.

Give rose

ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

Keeping the relationship separate is key and protecting myself will also be key considering the turbulent history. 

notarelative's picture

When we married both his kids and mine were young adults so I never raised the steps. YSD is married to a guy who told us it was disrespectful to deceased spouses to remarry (both my first husband and DH's ex were deceased when we married). Once they changed their phone number, and when step SIL called to give it to DH, step SIL told DH not to give me the new number. So we've never had a 'blended family'. 

A few years later YSD has a baby. I accompany DH to the hospital. One of the first things stepSIL says to me is that his child only has two grandparents YSD's dad and his mother (his dad was deceased). A few months later he informed me that he only lets relatives watch his child.

Someone once told me to do what gives you joy. I decided that if they don't want me to be grandma. I'm not.  The step grands call me first name. I don't give gifts. I don't sign cards. That's for their grandfather to do. But, when they were younger I'd suggest things to DH for birthdays and holidays. He'd buy them from him. Now the step grands are teens and I've stopped suggesting as they don't even say thank you to their grandfather. DH has social security and a tiny pension, so they get a card with a small check.

So, while I don't have step grandparent experience, my advice is to proceed cautiously and go with the flow. 

Winterglow's picture

I am so sorry that you've had to deal with such crappy examples of the sub-human race. You are a stronger person than I. 


ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

This is actually really nice that they did this to you- it allows you to totally step back and not have any invovlvement. I consider this a win even if it was a bit hurtful to you - you owe them nothing. 

Rags's picture

I am of the mind that no kid, regardless of how old they are, is going to call me anything but what I tell them to call me. As a SParent, if I am no Dad or Granddad, or whatever other monikre I stipulate, then I am Mr. Lastname. Period Dot.  My kid does not decide what they will call me and no Kidult is going to stipulate what their spawn call me.

We dealth with this twice, if I recall correctly, when SS was a minor. First when he was about 6yo and again when he was about 9-ish.  SpermGrandHag would get on her "He's not your dad!" or "He's not your REAL dad!" rant.  T his confused and upset my kid because he knew me as dad(dy), his choice, since before he was 2yo.  When the Hag would ply her PASing shit, it was upsetting to the Skid. When he came home from walling in the shallow and polluted end of  his gene pool after SpermClan visitation with "Gramma says  you're not my REAL dad, you're my step dad,  and I can't call  you dad."  Our discussion was direct and crystal clear. "We have talked about that a StepDad is the dad married to your mom and who loves you and your mom very much, that a BioDad is the dad that made you with your mom, and that a REAL dad is the dad who works to provide a nice home, safe cars to ride in, teaches you XYZ & LMNOP, coaches your teams, etc and who loves you and your mom very much.  Since you chose to call me Dad(dy) you can ether continue to do that, or  you can call me "Mr. Lastname". Your choice."

He always chose to to stick with dad.

If I had GSkids, the same would apply.  I and I alone stipulate what I will be referred as by Spawn and GSpawn.

ESMOD's picture

I suppose a lot depends on our spouses.. and how much they want to be involved.  Families run the gamut from super close and enmeshed to distant and occasional contact and cards at major holidays.

If your spouse is one that generally relies on you to do gifting for family.. simply ask them what they want you to help them do.

I am not super kid oriented since I never had any of my own.  My husband knows he is free to see his grandkids.. but that I am pretty much not too interested.. don't hate the kids.. just am not into kids.. 


ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

This is great ESMOD yet based on my history of being blamed/shamed with scapegoating I think it's better for me to minimize my role which includes gift giving. Each year I get a little smaller and smaller in generosity / giving of gifts which are always met with no thank you and no acknowledgment. 

CajunMom's picture

Much will depend on the relationship you have with your SK and yours doesn't seem very good, per your post.

When I came into StepHell, three of DHs kids were adults (one married, no kids) and two tweens. Because of PAS, MiniWife syndrome, and a DH who guilt parented, my relationship with DHs kids is nothing. DHs married son chose a retirement party for DH (arranged by me) to announce the first grandchild without one nod towards fact, completely ignored me to the point some guests showed disbelief in their looks. I processed that event over time but chose to complete disengage from all of DHs kids. That was 6 years ago.

While there have been two encounters in the past year, I feel nothing for DHs grands. I am gracious and kind but there is zero attachment, to the point that it is awkward. I did not spend much time with them; rather had other plans in place to slip away. As we move into the future, that's my stance. Be respectful, nice and kind to DHs adult kids and their children. Limit my time with them. I am Ms.CajunMom and if they can't address me as such, then don't address me at all. I don't buy gifts, do fun things, babysit or any other "grandmother" duties. 

Unfortunately for DHs kids, their mom died a few years ago so the only state-side grandparent is DH. He's not a babysitting, gift buying grandfather.  When he visited one son for Easter, I did suggest bringing gifts and DH was grateful with my help but I don't do that often. He's been a grandfather for several years now...he should know.

OH..wanna know the best??? Two of DHs sons are now STEP fathers. While I was banned from any role of grandparent, DH wasn't even asked...he automatically became grandpa for the two SKs. Talk about hypocrital behavior, huh??? LOL

ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

The hyprocracy is REAL. The funny thing is after being granted that status and hoisted into that position you would think that might create a humility and an understanding for you, but somehow in stepworld it never does. They never seem to really take in the lessons. 

Rags's picture

Damned straight you are Ms. CajunMom.  As it should be.  Because you say so.

"I am Ms.CajunMom and if they can't address me as such, then don't address me at all."


As SParents and GSparents these things are critical.  Every single little thing is critical. If we do not plant our flag on each hill and defend it to the death, then it turns into SParental death by a thousand cuts.

Tolerate no bullshit. Tell, do not discuss. When a Skid or GSkid oversteps, smack them back into their place with direct firm correction.  Including what they will call you.  

For me, I am Mr. Lastname.  Unless I stipulate otherwise.  For my niece/nephews I am Uncle Firstname. Not firstname only. Uncle Firstname. If a niece/nephew or their parent  takes exception to that the niece/nephew can choose to call me Mr. Lastname. I do not negotiate. It is what I say it is.  Or, I do not respond or engage while I make it crystal clear that they are not worthy of my attention.

As for the kids of friends calling me "Uncle".  Nope. Either Mr. Firstname, or Mr. Lastname. I am not their Uncle.

Fortunately, there has not been much drama on this as it usually only takes a single correction and everyone gets back into interfacing with each other respectfully.

ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

Agreed it's too much because no matter the size or effort of the gift they are not grateful. 

Merry's picture

When DH and I married we agreed that he would be responsible for relationships with his family, and I would be for mine. That means birthdays, Christmas, phone calls, general relationship maintenance. We done live near any of them so it's all long distance.

For a few years we planned Christmas gifts together, but my suggestions or purchases we never quite right and never appreciated. So he's on his own. He never remembers his kids' birthdays and has no idea about the grandkids. Not my problem.

I did have a pretty good relationship with the oldest stepgrand, but as the relationship between SD and DH deteriorated, my relationship with the grand fell away too.

Not my circus, not my monkey.  My life is easier without his kids in it, but my heart breaks for DH. 

ImperfectlyPerfect's picture

That's where I am at - I need to remain disengaged for my own health and sanity. Honestly they do not want me interfering whatsover so this is the right way to be. Keep life simple- you're doing that and I will take this as an example of how to proceed Merry -thank you!

MorningMia's picture

After being shot down, ignored, and shat upon time after time (the last time over gifts I sent for the first grand), I, too, finally washed my hands of the whole toxic money grabbing mess. I met grand #1 once and have not met the other two, nor have I sent gifts or even asked about them. I told DH I no longer engage in carrots being held out in front of me only to get smacked down. I also don't do hostage situations. DH can travel to see his grandkids whenever. My life is more peaceful without the games and rudeness, and I have adorable, kind grand nieces and nephews for my kid fix! I'm good! 

Rags's picture

Though I am of the mind that though I may not participate, neither is my mate at their beck and call.  My mate and I will do what we want to do regardless of what the Skidult/GSkid beck and call beggar squad whines and cries about.

"Ooops. Sorry, something came up and your mom/dad is no longer available."  I wouldn't give a single shit, much less two shits, about what they wanted, or what they had scheduled. If I want to do something, WE are doing it. Period. Dot. Or... my mate can do that while I do this.  We landed on this clarity when SS was in  his mid to late single digits to early 2 digit age range when I was done foregoing trips with my family because DW felt guilty that SS was not available because he was on SpermLand visitation. I pointed out that he was doing stuff with them and she was no consideration for them, so why should be forego enjoyment when SS was doing stuff with them.

She reluctantly agreed and after the first family trip without SS where she was obviously a bit morose, she jumped in with full gusto.  I tuned it down a bit by telling DW that if we did something that we felt SS would enjoy, we could di it again on a just us trip at a later time.  We did that a couple of times.

As partners to prior breeders, their spawn are a consideration only if they earn that with respectful appropriate behavior. The same applies to the SSpawn's spawn.  If they do not earn consideration as stipulated, they are nothing more than some nasty stanky crap stuck to our shoe.  What do you do with nasty stanky crap stuck to your shoe? You scrape it off and move on.  These are not people. They have not earned that status.  That status is only earned by continual adherance to respecful behavior standards.

Just my thoughts of course.