Step Kids: Should Grandma Treat Them the Same?


Photo by Cardigangirl

When it comes to grandchildren, the role of a grandmother is easy: Love, dote on, and spoil them rotten. The role of step grandmothers, if that official designation exists, is not so clear cut.

CafeMom MaxNMakennasMom's mother is an adoring and helpful grandmother to her 7 year old son. But she and MaxNMakennasMom's stepson aren't as close.

Grandma does not treat the stepson exactly the same as her biological grandchild: She won't offer to pay for college or buy him a car, babysit, spend as much money on his Christmas gifts, or spend as much time with him. She likes the boy and does not want him to feel bad or slighted in any way, but the level of attachment is just not the same.

So MaxNMakennasMom has been thinking about the responsibilities of step grandparents to step grandchildren lately, and posted a "what do you think?" in the private (but worth joining) Step-parenting group.

I asked her if she thought her mom was taking the right approach.

"There really isn't a defined role that a step-grandparent should play, because in my opinion, it is the step-parent who chooses to marry a person with kids," she told me. "If a step-grandparent doesn't want anything to do with the step kids, they really can't be faulted for it. I believe it's the grandparents' place to set the terms of their involvement as well. If the grandparent chooses to spoil the heck out of the bio-kids and not the steps, so be it. It shouldn't be shoved in the steps' faces, of course, but overall, I feel that since it's their time/money/home, they are the ones who call the shots."

So many other factors figure into this dynamic ... the birth mother's family, whether the father has custodial custody, how the step kid feels about the step grandparent, and countless others.


What do you see as the role of step grandparents? Should they have to treat both their biological kin and step kin equal in every way or is that unfair and unreasonable to expect?


Related posts:

Excluding Step Kids from Family Photos

Gisele: Taking the Stepmother Thing Too Far?

sibling rilvary


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TKsMo... TKsMommie

I think you can want whatever you want, it just depends on them. Should they?  yes.  but some people just aren't that nice or loving!  I don't think its unreasonable to expect it at all, but to some people that is asking too much!

I have 2 step grandmothers.  One barely speaks to me or my siblings and I don't think has ever had a real converstation with any of us.  and its been 10 years!

The other one, well lets just say I love my Nanny and Poppy!  They are amazing.  Poppy helped my sister pay for school because my dad wouldn't.  From day 1 they have loved us just as much as their other grandchildren (and there are a lot of them, LOL)  and Nan was more excited than anyone through both of my pregnancies and loves my kids with all of her heart.  I'm so excited for my kids to get to spend their first Christmas with them this year!  They are more my grandparents than my father's parents are!!  And my stepdad is the same way.  He treats us and his kids the same and loves my kids as much as my stepsister's!

Shann... ShannonZ1976

As someone who has had a step grandma (passed on) and now my children have step grandparents I see both sides of the spectrum.  My grandma didn't really give us as much as the bio and at the time I don't recall feeling slighted as it wasn't flaunted in front of us.  I think my mom made a bigger deal out of it.  I think she felt slighted.  Now my kids step grandparents love, dote, spoil, babysit, will do anything for my children!  For us I think it has to do with how comfortable you feel with your own situation.  Perhaps the Grandma thinks the step-grandchild can be taken away at any point and she would get attached and then be heartbroken.  I think that's how it was with my grandma.  Lots of fighting between my mom and step dad (who are still married somehow) and the potential for heartache.  So put up a wall and hope for the best.  If it doesn't work out well you weren't that attached anyway.  On the flip side my step parents believe love with all your heart and jump in head first.  If its not meant to be they will always love the kids!  I hope anyone who reads this and is in the situation can be patient with the step-grandparent or child and know that EVERYONE needs to be loved.  Even if you don't get to see them forever.   After all just because they are bio-family doesn't mean something cant happen you will never see them either 

milmi... milmiracle

I see it all as an individual thing.  I mean the step grandparent is an addition to the grandparents. With this said again it's all an individual thing.  If the other grandparents are not there the child will probably attache to the stepgrandparent.  Older people tend to be more tender, understanding and doting on children not just cuz their grandparents it's more their level of maturity that makes the child attach to them.  So every family's dynamics is kind of a private and individual thing. 

babyb... babyboomboom

I think that all children should be treated the same.  I think it's horrible of someone to look at their grandkids/kids, step or biological, and say "I like so and so better and will treat them better than you."  What if the kid was adopted?  Would you still treat them like the plauge?

Steel... SteeleMommasita

I think they need to be treated the same as well.  It's not the kids fault that this situation happened.  I can understand not paying for their college or things like that but if you are going to take bio kids to a movie then step should go too.  If bio kids get xmas presents so should the step.  If the grandma won't treat them as equals then don't accept the gifts or whatever.  Those kids need to know that there is nothing wrong with them and treating them differently makes them thing that they screwed up somehow.

If the grandma wants to do something special for them then do it in private...set up a college fund or something.


dodie_s dodie_s

HI Dodie here, I inherited a step mom at the age of 7 so I grew up with my ( bigmamma and whatley ) almost all my life. Bigmamma never slighted me and my younger brother or my older sister . we were treated the same she would let me spend the night and at her house there was the most wonderful LIving room it was like stepping back in time. I would spend hours in there alone playing the piano and listening to music. I aslo helped take care of her as she got older. I will always charish the love and care she gave my brother adn me.

Bizmom Bizmom

I would do my best to try and treat them equally, it's not easy as it is for them to feel like outsiders to begin with. they didn't ask for this, so as parents and grandparents, we are suppose to teach our kids what's right and what's wrong. and to treat or not try to be friendly with the child can and is a a hard thing to do. so little by little they should do whatever they can to make that child feel comfortable being in a postion to come talk and join in family things. after all it's part of that child life and I'm sure they are just as uncomfortable as the parents or(step) grandparents are. so trying to make things right for the child and do whatever is necessary to show them you care, would be something I would do. and at least you can say you tried and did all you could. but so they know they need to feel it as well.

jenih... jenihenipeni77

I have step grandparents, they are now deceased... but the second they met me they were in love and excepted me as there grandbaby! who couldnt love children, i think that expecting someone to except right off is to each  there own. but i have very fond memories of them and love them forever!

Lanasmom Lanasmom

Yes--Grandma should treat both of them equally--the child thats slighted WILL always know it, and will be hurt by it.  -- You shouldn't spend more on your other grandkids christmas presents just because your dna is the same--dna doesn't make a family, love does!

pagirl71 pagirl71

yes. My ex in laws are my oldest grandparents and they also call my younger 2 their grandkids and treat them all the same.

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