Dilemma: my grandchildren are closer to their step grandparents

Jo Brand / 08 December 2017

A reader has started to resent how close her grandchildren are to their new step grandparents.

Dilemma: my grandchildren's step grandparents spoil them

My daughter has two children aged nine and 11. She divorced and remarried and her new partner’s parents are all over my grandchildren. They are younger and richer than me and live closer. They take the children out for expensive treats and look after them if my daughter is working and I despair that I’m losing them. I can’t help but resent her in-laws moving in on my only grandchildren.

Jo Brand's advice

Oh dear, it seems to me as if you’re getting ready to do battle… and down that road lies unhappiness, bitterness and loneliness. Yes, I know that’s melodramatic, but I’ve seen it happen – people are always unhappier when they compete for the affections of others in this way.

Things change in life and we need to be able to adapt, which, let’s face it, gets harder as we get older. You must bear in mind that this couple aren’t doing this deliberately to make you miserable. They are a novelty to the children, while you are the faithful stalwart. That, initially, will make the new grandparents seem more exciting. You must convince yourself that what you have to offer is something much more valuable than money.

Also, give your grandchildren a bit of credit for not being 100% impressed by riches, but loving you for who you are. It would be a pretty bad show if they switched their allegiances on the basis of an extra McDonalds a week. Have you told your daughter how you feel? Perhaps you can chat and come up with a solution with her.

Shifting your perspective, too, would help. Saying things like ‘They are all over my grandchildren’ implies that suspicion and resentment have already built up.

To be honest, as the children become teens, they may drift away from all of you anyway. Which brings me to another suggestion.

Much as I am loath to suggest you’ve put too many eggs in one basket, this may be the reason why you’re taking it so hard: the children fill a void in your life.

Why not scout around for some new things to do… after all, what we all want is an active, happy, fulfilled grandma, not one seething quietly at home and possibly driving everyone away.

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