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Where Do Step-Grandparents Fit On The Family Tree?

By Shela Dean

People are naturally curious about their ancestors and family history. We’re interested in genetic connections and what mix of DNA made us who we are.

I joke that my granddaughters Addison and Kennedy are the most documented children ever born. Their mother photographs their every move. My husband videos important (and not so important) events. I make scrapbooks. Their father creates their family tree. In doing so, their dad had to graft a new branch onto that tree. You see, my husband Dale is not the girls’ biological grandfather so, genetically speaking, there’s no place for him on their family tree. And, yet, he is more grandfather to those sweet girls than any blood link could provide.

Why we’re lucky to have Dale

Dale is the one who taught Addison to swim and Kennedy to ride her bike, invented the patio swimming they think is such fun, is a human jungle gym, takes the girls to play in mud puddles, drives them to piano and ballet lessons, and will play whatever game they choose long after the rest of us have cried “Uncle!” He’s the one who taught them opera, jazz, and classical music and so much more. If anyone deserves a place of honor in the family history, it is he.

What step-grandparents can do to ease in gracefully 

Dale was fortunate that the girls have never known life without him. In today’s world of blended families, however, many become step-grandparents when the child is older and may already have established grandparent relationships or, having experienced a broken family, may be reluctant to form new relationships. A step-grandparent, however, brings new talents, experience, and knowledge to the family and can become an important part of a child’s family history. Establishing a rewarding relationship sometimes takes patience. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Be patient, don’t expect too much too soon.
  • Do what you can to minimize the stress of bringing two families together.
  • Focus on the needs and interests of the child.
  • Remember special events.
  • Be supportive of their interests.
  • Do things with them.
  • Support the parents in their rules and expectations.
  • Find ways to praise and be slow to criticize.

I recently read the following: “Family is not about blood. It’s about who is willing to hold your hand when you need it the most.” And isn’t that the truth?

Layout 1Shela Dean is a relationship coach, speaker and bestselling author of ReDate Your Mate, 4 Steps to Falling in Love All Over Again (Boomer Edition)

Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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