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Tips for Getting Along With the Other Grandma

“Grandparents competing with other grandparents is a sign of insecurity,” says marriage and family therapist and grandmother Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem. “By the time adults are old enough to be grandparents, hopefully they have learned to be their own personal best and know that competing with others is best left for games.”

But sometimes, we just can’t help ourselves when it comes to the “other” grandmother.

So how do you get along with the other grandma?

I asked some grandmas who share the same grandchildren for some advice and here’s what they had to say.

Tips For Getting Along With The Other Grandma

Speak favorably about the other grandmother. Janet and Judy share babysitting duties for their two granddaughters, three-year old Quincy, and one-year old McKinley.

“I’d be friends with Judy even if we didn’t share grandchildren. Judy is awesome. We have a mutual appreciation. I would never say anything disparaging about the ‘other’ grandma—it’s a cardinal sin. But then I don’t have the challenges that some grandmas have.”

It’s a state of mind and attitude is everything. “We both want what’s best for our children,” says Janet. “If I’m feeling jealous or hurt, I find ways to diffuse my feelings and try to reach out to her. In relationships that matter, it’s usually the most ‘conscious’ one who has to reach out.”

Remember how important it is to your children. “I go the extra mile to make our relationship solid,” Janet says. “If there’s an issue, we try to figure it out because our grandchildren are so important. We don’t want to make things hard on their parents.”

Appreciate the other grandma’s strengths. “We each have our specialties,” says Janet. “Music is important to me and I love to sing with my granddaughters. Judy cooks with the girls and they love to make soup together.”

Another grandma, who’s one of six grandparents, told me she and her husband and the other two grandparent couples have social outings together. By developing friendships and getting to know each other there’s less chance of competition. They feel their situation is a blessing for the grandchildren. Each grandparent is able to add something unique instead of trying to compete with each other for favorite.

My grandma friend, LD summed it up best:

  • You have to want to get along.
  • Have a generosity of spirit and be accepting.
  • Leave your ego at the door.
  • Let go of the desire to be the most important grandparent.
  • Proactively set up some times to get together.
  • When the other grandparent says something critical about your child, don’t respond.
  • You don’t have to do holidays together and you shouldn’t feel you have to adopt each other.

“It’s normal to feel envious of the other grandma,” says LD, “especially if she has more face time with the grandchildren. But you just have to remind yourself that grandchildren thrive when they have lots of grandparents who love them.”

2 thoughts on “Tips for Getting Along With the Other Grandma”

  1. I recently spoke to an aunt who taught her niece about both grandmas’ strengths. She remarked to her on the fact that she had just visited her grandma. “Oh, she’s not my real grandma,” said the niece, though the aunt knew better. “Real Grandmas smoke and drink coffee in the morning.” “Well,” your other grandma can run like the wind,” said the aunt. And, after the next visit, the niece excitedly reported it was true.

  2. I think the insight about one set of grandparents having more face-time is spot on. I had this issue with my own grandmother and my cousins, who lived in her town. She made up for it by spending focused one-on-one time with me when she did visit.

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