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?


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