Grandmothers come in every size, color, style, and shape. As long as your arms fit around the baby, you are perfect! Grandmothers may be married to the grandfather of their grandchildren, they may be widowed, single, or have another status of personal relationships.
Quite a few single grandmas are out there. Divorce multiplies the situation. Some grandmas never married. As any grandma will attest, grandchildren go a long way to fill up a single grandma's heart.
If you have a boyfriend, that's terrific. But, don't let him come between you and your grandchildren. You might both enjoy visiting your grandchildren separately. If you want to bring him along on your visits or include him at your place, fine. Just be sure to focus your attention on the kids. They're the "sure thing"!
"Step" doesn't have to be a four-letter word. You can bring joy to many lives, including your own. If you are a new step-grandma, dive right in. More people to love equals more people to love you back. Try not to have any expectations - you may not be welcomed with tiny open arms. Accept that the children might be nervous with you. Just remember, the way to a man's heart isn't only through his stomach! If you initiate a real relationship with his grandchildren everyone will benefit. If you can't stand the kids, be comforted that you had nothing to do with them getting that way. However, you can have something to do with making them nicer.
If you have married a widower, you are desperately needed to fulfill the grandma role, whether the children consciously realize this or not. If you married a divorced, you can help him maintain or reestablish a good relationship with his grandchildren. In every case, be consistently supportive. When you accept the responsibilities of being a grandma, all the benefits will be yours as well.
My step-grandma came into my life when my real grandma was alive and flourishing, so we naturally called our grandfather's wife by her first name. Twenty years later, my hand hesitates each time I write that name on a letter to her and my grandfather. She has always been supportive, loving, generous, and a real kick to be around. She has always made an effort to connect with me by spending time alone with me or with my family and she has succeeded. She never tried to replace my grandma; she is unique in her own way. She is truly a grandma.
It's perfectly acceptable to visit your grandchildren without your husband. Maybe you will each visit your respective grandchildren at the same time. However, if you spend time with your grandchildren as a team, be sure you get equal time. If you were single for awhile, you may have had many impromptu visits from your grandchildren. That's less likely to happen now, so plan ahead. If your husband doesn't have grandchildren, don't let him keep you away. On the contrary, teach him how the relationship works. He'll learn to appreciate your methods and you. Remember, your grandchildren will always be there for you as long as you are always there for them. Have an influence on the future - and a good time, as well!
A grandma is a grandma is a grandma. Unconditional love takes patience and understanding. Contribute to the warm environment that will make your grandchild feel secure. Years from now, when the child has natural doubts about his adopted parents versus his genetic parents, your role in his life will not be questioned. You will always be grandma.
You may have finished raising your children, only to find yourself raising your children's children. This is not unusual. If you are the one who keeps track of when and what the children eat, then face it - you're the mother. With your wisdom and relaxed attitude about child rearing, the children are lucky to have you. Times do change, so keeping up with current child development theories is vital! Don't despair. Visit parenting web sites, watch a quality parenting TV show, read the current parenting books and magazines - you'll be amazed at how helpful they can be. Though your energy may flag, your great emotional expertise will serve you well. The children need you. They'll appreciate you more than you'll ever know. You may not be all fun and games, but you'll be one cherished grandma.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.