Another route to becoming a stepgrandparent is by marrying someone with grandchildren or by marrying someone with children who later produce children of their own. In these cases, your partner’s grandchildren become your stepgrandchildren. The family dynamics in such a situation can differ radically from those that exist when your child becomes a stepparent, making you a stepgrandparent. For one thing, the circumstances of your partner’s divorce and remarriage can impact your stepgrandparenting role. If the divorce created hard feelings, then the other biological grandparent is unlikely to welcome you as a stepgrandparent, and children may be hostile as well. If you are married to someone whose divorce was somewhat amicable, that circumstance brings a different set of problems. It is likely that you and your spouse will be included in many family occasions at which the ex-spouse will be present. Jealousy and competitiveness between the ex and current spouse are possible outcomes.
In other second marriage scenarios, the stepgrandparent may be resistant to the role. In the case of someone who is younger than his or her spouse, the younger spouse may feel too young to be a grandparent.
Sometimes adult children resent a remarriage or reject a stepparent because they are concerned about inheritance issues. It may ease the tension if parents share with their children the steps they have taken to protect the children's inheritance, such as prenups or family trusts. Often when the children see that the stepgrandparent is going to be a helpful and loving member of the family, acceptance comes quickly. That was Trisha Torrey's experience.
I've had no conflicts at all with my grandchildren’s parents – in fact I have a great relationship with all four of them. Why? I think mostly because they see how happy their dad and I are, and because I’m always there for them when they need someone to pitch in. We’ve helped them move, we’ve been there to grandbabysit, even though the family with the young ones is a four-hour drive away, and the ones with the teenager live about a three-day drive away.
Jody Prince* has had similarly positive relationships with stepchildren and stepgrandchildren. Jody, who has two biological children, married a man with two biological children and two stepsons.
There was no difficulty at all on my children’s part about my remarrying; they have felt more comfortable with him than anyone else I dated whom they may have met. . . . Difficulties arose with only one stepson and his wife as well as his late wife’s sister. They had trouble accepting me as they felt he “met me too soon” after she [his first wife] died. But his other stepson and wife and his nieces all set them straight and encouraged them to realize that he had been a wonderfully attentive husband and deserved the happiness he had found with me.
Guest stepgrandparents contributed via email. Thanks to:
*not her real name