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Grandparenting/Daughter-in-Law accusing Grandparents of Favoritism of Natural Grandson over Step Grand-daughters

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Question
My grandson's mother was killed in a tragic accident when he was only 19 months old.  Since then, my husband and I have been a huge part of his life, raising him as both grandparents and parents when my son and my grandson lived with us for nearly 2 years.

My son recently married in June and has two step daughters ages 9 & 11 along with his son who is now 7.  My daughter-in-law has just sent me several scathing e-mails, accusing my husband and me of favoritism toward our grandson.  I am concerned because as an outsider, we see these girls bossing him around, and he really has no control of most things in his life, be it what to watch on TV, computer games, etc.  He ususally loses. He doesn't even have his own bedroom, he shares it with the 9 year old and we think that is wrong.  It is very difficult for us to sit back and watch this go on.  We've said things to our son, and now we're being accused of favoring our granson over our step-granddaughters.  It is hard for us to turn the switch on, when these girls have only been a part of our lives for such a short time. I know they adore us, but when it comes to being an advocate for our grandson, we're there for him. I'm sure my daughter-in-law favors her daughters over her stepson and I understand if she would.  We still support their family financially, buy the kids their clothes for school, take them places, pick them up after school when asked, I just don't get it.  My daughter-in-law says she can't even talk to me right now because it's like talking to a "wall."

Answer
Hi Cynthia,
Even though you can "see as an outsider"  it takes time to establish a new family.  The girls are used to being by themselves and they are older siblings.  Older siblings normally give grief to younger ones and this new situation is even more tempting.  Often, the opposite sex sibling has issues getting along too because their interests are different.  How often do you see them?  If you see them often, it might help to set up a system at your home for a way to help the children get to know you and your rules.  Grandma's even have some rules.  I have found a good system that I use with my grandchildren.  It is called, The Happy Face Token System.  I use it to help establish the kinds of relationships I want in my home and hopefully the children carry it over into their homes.  The parent's have noticed a difference and they have instilled it in their home as well.  I can get immediate responses, happily and cheerfully, and as they collect the tokens, they can cash them in for something at my home.  For instance, time with grandma to play a game or color, some computer time,#which I don't particularly care for but the kids like it so I charge a high price# stay up later when they sleep over, or go for a walk with me.  Right now my grandchildren range from 8-1 I use this program for those 4 and older.  They love it.  I give tokens for learning how to tie a shoe or ride a bike or take care of each other.  You could encourage sibling togetherness by playing a board game with all the kids together and as they get along, give a token to all.  As they speak kindly or include each other, they could earn a token.  You have great ability, as the grandmother, to foster the kinds of behavior you feel should be used in your home.  they love you and will want to please you.  Over time, the relationships will develop, but it takes time for all involved to get to know each other's quirks and foibles as well as inner character traits.  Pray for each of them to love one another and foster that love for each with this program.  It also teaches the children that they all get the same reward for the same behavior and parent's can see that as well.  Children also lose tokens for behavior that promotes disunity and disrespect.  The girls will see that as a deterrent as well if they like the things on the list.  Have them help you add things they want to do while at your house.
Good luck,
Debbie

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Debbie Preece

Expertise

I answer all kinds of grandparenting questions, give ideas on how to interact and be a positive influence with grandchildren ages 3-12.

Experience

I have raised three children who are now raising 11 of my grandchildren. Everyone should have the experience of being a Grandparent before they are a Parent,it is so much more fun! I live in the area of 5 of my grandchildren and I have experience teaching them how to cook, clean up after themselves and give happy, first time obedience. This flows over into their own homes and often helps with relations between the in-laws. I have experience using The Happy Face Token System and offer ideas for variations and adaptations with the token economy concept.

Publications
From Combat Zone to Love at Home: The Happy Face Token System http://healthappy.com http://desperatemommy.com http://foxholeparenting.com http://biblebasedparenting101.com http://happyfacetokens.com http://floridabestmom.com

Education/Credentials
Raised three happy and healthy children who are now raising children.

Past/Present Clients
"I've listened to the [CD]and read the book,and really got a lot of ideas. I already use sort of the same system but I call it "Nana Bucks". The kids get paid for good behavior, chores, etc. Seems to work but I'm incorporating some more of your ideas in it."

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