By: Honey Good
A blended family is not a gift …
IT IS AN ACHIEVEMENT!
“My 20 Grands are not mine and his…they are ours! How lucky is that!”
I wanted to know when I started writing this blog where the term ‘step’ originated. I thought you would too, darlings! In biblical times, a man would ‘step up’ and marry his deceased brother’s wife in order carry on the bloodline. The term has since expanded to other members of the family, to include step grandparents, which to be honest with you…I really do not like! It sounds so cold like the ‘steps’ in Cinderella.
And this ‘step’ grandmother is anything but cold!
Never-the–less I am the step grandmother to the Good GRANDS. We are a happily blended (meaning harmonious and mixed) family. Does this mean my blended family was always a harmonious mix? No. It took my tender loving care, lots of sleepless nights of thought provoking options and thank goodness, the extraordinary role model I had to follow… my own step grandmother.
I profess with pride that my step grandchildren and I made it through the rain. My second husband, Shelly (we were both widowed) and I have a total of 20 Grands between us. These are the guidelines I incorporated to earn their love and respect. I am Honey, grandmother to 20 Grands. The word ‘step’ never enters their minds.
As the matriarchs of our families we have the responsibility to put our grandchildren’s feelings above our own. We have earned our PhD in life. They are children. Second, it is important for the grandchildren to see devotion and loyalty between you and their grandfather. This gives them confidence in the new relationship which will help with their bonding.
Tolerance: Most adult children will be skeptical of the new blended family because it is not easy for them to invite a stranger into the fold. Whatever it takes…show tolerance. Don’t be sensitive. Put yourself in their shoes. Remember once you gain a relationship with the children…the grandchildren will slide into place.
Attention/Nurture: I email. I text. I Facebook. I listen to problems over the phone and on Skype. I praise their successes. I never forget an occasion. I seal each birthday card with a huge kiss on the back of the envelope with my lips full of lipstick. I am their pen pal when they travel. I tell them I love them. I shower them with hugs and kisses. Please don’t use the excuse that your family is scattered all over the country. Mine is also. In seven states! You can still nurture them with your attention. It is only time, grandmas, only your time.
Wisdom: Our role is to make each of our blends feel special. I have figured out what makes each of my twenty grandchildren, ‘tick.’ Have you? When you accomplish this, the bond between you and your grandchildren will tighten.
Trust: Be an open book with your grandchildren. Show your vulnerability. Share secrets and never break your pledge of secrecy.
Participation: Share holidays. Take family trips. Travel to their events if proximity makes it feasible. Blend. Blend. Blend.
I am not a therapist. But I do know how to handle my blends with my maternal instincts guiding me. I worked hard. Had trials and tribulations feeling my way into the world of the blended family but once I arrived, darlings…I arrived!
I am joyful when I think of my blended family. The Grands did their part too. They welcomed me into the fold. I am their grandmother! I am Honey to all of them and they are Grands. We love each other. How lucky is that!
HAPPY STEPFAMILY DAY! Aren’t we blessed?
For more Grandparenting tips, click here.
Teaching our grandchildren to get out of their comfort zone, into their courage zone, and ‘just do it’ leads to a successful life.
I have found the best way to ‘sink’ any important knowledge, into my Grandss heads is through my art of storytelling.
My philosophy is not scientific. Everyone, at every age, loves a story.
When I sense a problem, I jump in, as their wise grandmother, and ask them to sit down with me... that is if I am lucky enough to be with them. If they are miles away, we talk over the phone or Skype.
I listen to them. I validate their situation. And then I say, “I want to tell you a true story that relates to your situation." It gets their attention, every time, darlings.
I have found with my twenty-four Grands that self- doubts occur as they wonder what paths they should take.
We can recklessly say what we choose, or we can carefully choose what we say.
Remember, we are wise because of our life experiences. Our grandchildren are much younger than us. So we must think before we speak.
Here are a few things you may be tempted to say to your grandchildren, but they will not do anyone any good:
1. “Don’t tell your mom or dad.”
This is teaching your grandchildren it is OK to be dishonest.
By Susan "Honey" Good
"Each time a grandchild is born your heart beats a little faster." Barbara Handy, Honey Good Facebook Friend
About a month or more ago, I posed the following question on my Honey Good Facebook page, "Describe - in one word - how you felt the first time you held your grandchild?"
Dear readers, you did not disappoint with the breadth of your answers nor with their poignancy.
Every child wants to have friends and be part of ‘a group.’
With our guiding principles we should play a role in educating our Grands on the principles of friendship, so they can choose the right friends and groups and avoid the fickle, fake, back stabbers and poor role models.
Teaching Grandchildren, through story telling, is my manner of imparting a message. I choose to tell my Olive tree story by using the tree as a symbol and guide of what characteristics to look for a group.
The Olive Tree Story
To celebrate my amazing children & Grands on National Kids Day I have found a delicious, quick & easy, kid-friendly recipe to try this summer! Guaranteed to impress any hungry Grands!
- Pizza base (one third of our homemade pizza base will make 24 mini pizza bites)
- Passata or tomato puree
- Cheese (we used grated mozzarella)
- Topping of your choice (mushrooms and pepperoni)
Once a month I am very fortunate to be one of several women bloggers who participate in a conference call. We discuss a multitude of topics. I look forward to the exchange.
On last week’s call, I was struck by a topic brought up by one of our members, Donne, who is the owner of GaGaSisterhood.com.
A title of a story she posted, written by another writer, was: Are you denied access to your grandchildren? I was truly shocked at the enormous response Donne received from grandmother’s suffering and grieving because they are not allowed access to their Grands. I asked Donne if I could share the story with you.
My purpose is to let you know you are not alone.
Please share with me and our community of grandmothers.
Last Sunday our Grand, Joe Good, called to check in. His grandfather spoke to him for about 10 minutes. I am not his natural grandmother and I spoke to him for 30.
A few years ago I initiated a plan that I hoped would establish a closer bond with this Grand of mine because…
Joe’s and my life is separated by several thousands of miles, sometimes continents and as mentioned, I am not his natural grandmother.
I am telling you my story so you ‘don’t give up the ship’ if you are in my situation. Remember, ‘where there is a will, there is always a way.’ But, your will must come from the heart.
Here is my story.
My Grands, like many of yours, have moved away with their parents. It is the modern-world syndrome and not only do grandmother’s suffer but so do our adult children and of course, our Grands. We are the scattered generation.
My grown children occasionally chastise me with comments, I feel often unfairly, yet I admit I ask myself, “Could I do more?
I know many absentee grandmothers feel as I do. We are saddened that society has changed from the golden days when we all lived near family. We wish we could hop in our cars; pick up our Grands from school, help them with their homework or take them for a dairy queen. We want to hug them; we want to look at them; we want to be hugged back. But we cannot! It is the scattered generation.
6 years ago, when my identical triplet granddaughters were 4 years old, they began asking me questions about death. They seemed fascinated by a dead bird in the street. Their pet goldfish passed away and they had a ceremony to bury him “at sea”. They talked about great grandparents that they had only heard of and wondered how they had died. None of these experiences or questions came with any sadness. They were merely “curious” about this life event. I was able to answer them with facts rather than emotions.