Grandkids deserving of equal treatment

This is an archived article that was published on in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Dear Carolyn • Over the years, I've read numerous complaints about grandparents who showed favoritism to some grandkids based on gender, adoption or step situations. Each time, I've been outraged that adults could be so unfair to innocent children. But I'm finding the situation isn't so easily resolved when you're in the middle of it. My husband and I became grandparents a year ago. We were beyond thrilled! We don't have a lot of money, but we cut some corners to buy cute gifts on the appropriate occasions. Now ... my stepson has started dating a woman with two young children. The 26-year-old, college-dropout stepson has made having a family his No. 1 goal in life. He actually searched dating sites for women with children. He's now moving in with this woman, who only a month ago agreed to be publicly identified as his girlfriend. Anyway ... with the holidays coming up, I don't know what to do. Do we spend an equal amount on these other two kids? I don't want to be a jerk to these two little girls, but I also don't want to keep diverting money from our granddaughter to a string of kids we might not see again. Am I being a total jerk? I just want to be a ...

Good Grandma

Dear Grandma • Being a good grandma is about the kids, not you. Your first paragraph says you already know this. That means any gifts you give to family members are investments in them as people, vs. investments in your relationship with them. It's "I want the best for you" vs. "I want the best out of you" — a fine distinction, but an important one. When you look at these two little girls that way, then you'll see that their tenuous status in your family has no bearing on the way you divvy up the gifts. What they need — possibly even more than your granddaughter does — is an environment where they're valued just for being, without contingencies such as "gender, adoption or step situations."

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