My husband and I were happily playing Four Square with our
grandchildren. It was a beautiful day and we were all having so much fun
together. A neighbour passed by and asked whose grandchildren they
were – mine or his? We replied “ours”.
This brought me to my next topic. My husband David has some wonderful
thoughts on this subject that he would like to share with you.
Grey Hair and Step Grandkids – what a great combination!!
Observations from a Veteran.
I have 30 years’ experience in being a member of a stepfamily and for the past nine
years have enjoyed the blessing of step grandchildren- hence my identifying myself as a
veteran. Blythe asked me to write some observations which I am happy to share.
Let’s take a step back and revisit the concept of attachment. Blythe and I covered this
important topic in her blog entitled "Let’s Talk about Attachment." John Bowlby the British
psychoanalyst espoused which is now accepted as sound theory that at birth children attach
to the persons that are most loving, caring and both physically and emotionally attached to
them. This results in an extremely strong bond to the biological parent and one that is not
easily encroached by an incoming stepparent. A stepparent can be close to their stepchildren
and hopefully serve as a mentor, but they will not share the same bond. This can be very
frustrating and emotionally challenging for a stepparent and one that they always must work
In addition, the resulting hard feelings from the biological parents break up will
usually leave at best some scaring and at worst downright ill feelings which can get visited on
the children, resulting in loyalties and boundaries. A stepparent will get caught in this
crossfire and must tread lightly. Fortunately, though we are talking here about the grey-
haired set who come along after the fact and will enjoy a completely different dynamic. In
fact, I can remember with incredulity holding my first step grandchild and luxuriating in their
gentle, inquiring look and realizing that this is a fresh canvass and will not be affected by past
relationships. That newborn is secure in their attachment and they will be looking to me for
simply love, support and companionship and perhaps a little fun and mischief. These
children do not get a rule book as to who they might favour or treat in one way or the other,
they are just pleased to have you pay attention to them.
My children had nicknamed me Daddoo and this was an easy transition to the next
grand - stage and besides how many Grandpas does a child of a step family need. So
Daddoo it is and what a joy.
- Early in his young life one of the wee ones would call me and say breathlessly “I
love you Daddoo !!” When left as a message I would get to re-play it with much
- He is older now and takes joy in teasing me about my fan devotion to the Buffalo
Bills – although I did score a great Bills jacket last Christmas.
- One loves to ride on my shoulders and when I spin around and call out “Where
are you ?” He says with wonderful naivety – “ Up here !”
- I am teaching another my expressions and I am well rewarded when he turns on
his parents after they ask him to do something and he says “ Get out of Dodge ’’
or “ No way Jose ”and gives me a conspiratorial look.
- They all love to jump on me and wrestle, the oldest girl has a set of long legs that
can now pack a mean punch. So she now has to settle with beating me
resoundingly in a match cards game - “Oh Daddoo “ she says sympathetically as
I go down repeatedly to defeat.
Of course, these are the fun isolated incidents which bring joy but there is also the
wonderful realization that this symbiotic relationship is just plain rewarding. There is
a richness to be around young ones who are not yours to parent or discipline but you
can influence in positive ways. In my case, I think it is important to approach life with
a sense of humour and not to take oneself too seriously so I encourage that approach
with them and hopefully they will take it to heart.
Life through a child’s perspective is refreshing and their unique observations are
always fun to consider. Tough to be overly cynical when a youngster begs you to take
their hand and skip with them down the road. As they grow, they “keep you young”
trite I know but no less true. They chat away about so many topics, new music,
games, technology and insights in general, such a treat as you age to have a
counterbalance of youthful exuberance. One might hope that this connection will last
and you are then rewarded with a loving human being who grew up with you.
Our first grandchildren were a product of my wife Blythe’s son and when my son had
his baby there was many who said quite innocently that I must be happy to have one
of my own. I always respond that it is of course a pleasure to have a new grandchild
but honestly my step grandchildren would be very surprised to hear that I am not a
bona fide grandparent. I mean if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck – well you
Perhaps the one caution in the step grandparent experience is that you will be well
advised to set some ground rules with the grandchild’s parents, so you do not
become overly intrusive and remain a welcome addition.
The stepfamily experience has its challenges and rewards, I know, but hang in there
as I can tell you that this grey-haired phase is just fun and easier. You have to put the
time in, but it is truly a gift.
Embrace the opportunity and enjoy.
PS: The nickname Daddoo is taken.