When grandparents of blended families treat the grandchildren differently

As a blended family, it may be painful to experience the grandparents treating their grandchildren differently. The “real” grandchildren get more attention and are pampered, and the fusion grandchildren seem non-existent in the grandparents’ minds.

For a fusion parent this apparent discrimination is interpreted as a lack of acceptance and recognition from his/her partner’s parents that their son or daughter is now established in a new relationship with “new” children.

The grandparents must redefine their roles
The grandparents seem unaware that their child has made a choice that also has an impact on their roles. That they cannot just continue as before, but have to redefine their roles. Ask yourself – what do we do now?

It is even worse, if the grandparents still have the old wedding photos hanging of their son/daughter’s previous marriage, which the fusion parent will get ‘smacked’ in the face when he/she is visiting.

It is hard to feel welcome.

My father-in-law already had a daughter-in-law
Such was my own situation. From my father-in-law’s point of view. At the first visit he reported to me clearly, that he already had a daughter-in-law and there wasn’t room for one more. Which I probably should be able to understand.

He explained further that his ” daughter-in-law ” of course had been in his life for many years, so she had priority over me.

I was somewhat flabbergasted. I really could not help but laugh, because it was so crazy an announcement to make, that I actually was not even hurt, but instead replied boldly that I then would have to fight for my place as a daughter-in-law. And preferably get priority.

He didn’t think that was possible to which I replied: – “We’ll see,” and smiled as I added that it was certainly not a choice he had, whether I would be in his life or not and that he eventually had to accept both me and my boys.

That remark made him pause and smile.

I ended up getting a close and loving relationship with my father-in-law, although I initially had to fight for my legitimacy in his life.

Talk to grandparents
It’s a great idea to talk to your parents about how to embrace your new family. Maybe they do not know how to handle the situation and what you expect of it. Why do they behave as usual, because they know it works.

By talking to your parents about your expectations, you will protect both them, you, your spouse and the children from disappointment, anger and hurt feelings.

If the grandparent situation is an issue in your blended life, I hereby give you my top 5 tips you can refer them to or to use as conversation topics.

Tip 1: Treat all children – biological or fusion equal and fair
Treat your fusion grandchildren the same way you treat your biological grandchildren. Do also hug your fusion grandchildren. Your grandchildren call you grandma or grandmother, and when your new grandchildren have been in your life for a while, you can encourage them to call you “grams” or “granny” if they wish. It sounds nicer than using your name (and also because they already have a grandma and grandmother).

Practice how to remove the labels “biological” and “fusion” from your head so you are aware of treating your grandchildren equally.

Tip 2: Be interested in the new fusion grandchildren
Ask about your new fusion grandchildren. Invest time to get to know them, their friends, hobbies and interests. Do something with them. Talk to them. Find their uniqueness.

It will make them feel very welcome.

Tip 3: Remember special days
Write the new fusion grandchildren’s birthdays in your calendar (also your new daughter-/son-in-law’s birthday). Send them a card on that day, write down important events like a play at the school which the child is to participate in. Then you have an opportunity to ask how it went.

Tip 4: Do not get “stuck” in the past
Your adult child is now in a new family. Recalling the “good old days” with the former spouse and how comfortable you were together is not a good idea. Let the past be the past. Also take down the old wedding photos you have hanging, so your new daughter-/son-in-law feels welcome in your home.

Tip 5: Listen to your adult child without taking sides
If your adult child is calling and complaining about how challenging it is to live in a fusion family, then listen to him/her. Just listen to him/her, even if it is difficult. Do not take sides and say something negative about your new daughter-/son-in-law and her/his children. You can actually easily come to regret it later.

Support your son or daughter when they do their best to be a good parent, fusion parent and partner in their new family and remember that your primary task as a grandparent is to care about all of your grandchildren.

Your loving investment will come back tenfold in the form of a larger family who will love you and bring you joy.



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