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The Wicked Step…Grandmother?

Oct25

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Advice Smackdown ArchivesHi Amy-

My husband and I recently welcomed a beautiful baby boy into our family! Everything is going fairly well, thanks to your advice on breastfeeding and other postpartum…experiences. We’re even using cloth diapers now, which I’m pretty sure I would never had had the guts to try if it weren’t for your writings on the subject. So lots of thanks, and keep up the great work!

We are having a bit of a grandparent issue. My husband’s parents divorced when he was young, and his mom never remarried. His dad, however, remarried only a few years ago, after my husband was out on his own. After our son (the first grandchild) was born, my father-in-law asked my husband if his wife could be called “Grandma” by the baby. While my husband likes his step-mom, he is not completely comfortable with the idea of her being “Grandma” to our child[ren]. His point is that he did not grow up with her, and in no way does he consider her his mother. He never responded to his dad’s question (posed via email), but they are coming out to visit soon, and I know the issue will arise.

I definitely see my husband’s point – she was never his mother, and is not quite in the same “league” as the other two grandmothers. However, I feel like this could be a major insult to her and my father-in-law if we completely reject the idea. While they live across the country, I do not want to spoil the relationship our son will have with them in the future. But as this is my husband’s family, I hesitate to try to push for anything if he is not in support of the idea. I’m just trying to avoid bitterness and hurt feelings on all sides! As an added complication, I’ve let the other grandparents choose what they would like to be called, and have not brought up the topic with my husband’s father…but if we aren’t going to let her be called anything special, should I even ask? Or just stick with grandpa?

Anyway, I’d love to get your opinion on this, as an objective observer. Family dynamics are always complicated, especially when divorce and grandchildren are involved!

Thanks for all your help,
Laura

I’m not sure if this little factoid is widely known by my readers — I’m sure I’ve mentioned it at some point, now long buried in my tedious archives — but my parents each have three children from their first marriages. My six siblings are all technically half-siblings, but since they were the only siblings I had (and even though there’s quite an age difference), I never really think or refer to them that way. And for the most part, I’m just the “baby sister” and not the half-sister to them as well.

NOT that I grew up with the Brady Bunch, or anything. Oh, no. Even though their divorces happened long before they met and had me, I certainly grew up seeing the very real fall-out and consequences of divorce and children and blended family. It was…very bad and very ugly at times. My parents married when my father’s children were in their late teens. My mother’s children were slightly younger. The step-parent relationship was rocky on both sides for many, MANY years.

But all of my nieces and nephews — on both sides of the family — call my parents the same thing: Nana and PopPop. My mom’s first husband remarried as well and his wife is also given a grandparent title. The way I observed the situation and decision-making from my siblings was that 1) it was simply a good time to work on putting crap from the divorces behind them and move forward, and 2) it would complicate things for the grandchild down the line, forcing a discussion about divorce and remarriage probably before they were really old enough to grasp it. (I can easily picture a four-year-old asking why he calls a grandmother-like figure “Susan,” even though at that age the concepts of marriage and divorce and biological relationships would be WAY too much for him. Kids are tricky like that.)

From my own perspective, I could also see problems with a young child interpreting the name difference as step-parents being “not equal” or “not real” — and while that’s probably true for your husband, as the remarriage happened so recently, during his adulthood — your son is likely going to encounter other divorced and/or blended families sooner than you realize. Disney already does enough damage with their countless Wicked Stepmothers, you know?

I totally get why it’s probably pretty jarring for your husband to think about handing over the honored grandparent title to a woman who is possibly a stranger to him. But she won’t be a stranger to your son. The fact that she’d like to be called Grandma (and thus, I assume, BE a Grandma) seems like…a nice thing, and probably a tough thing for her to ask, since I’m SURE she’s aware of her awkward position in your husband’s world. Unless she’s done things that would justify a wariness or a need to keep her at arms’ length — or your husband’s mother would lose her MIND at the idea of the new wife getting called Grandma — I’m probably going to come down on the side of burying the family drama for the sake of your new family. Yes, the divorce happened and the splitting and blending and remarriage is still part of the tapestry, but I really think it’s a good thing if your son grows up with the impression that none of that really matters — this is his family, and everyone in it loves him very, very much.

If your husband decides he feels really, really strongly about the no-Grandma thing, perhaps come up with another special term of endearment for his stepmother. Kids call their grandparents ALL KINDS of things, like names from other cultures or sometimes just toddler-speak nicknames of their first names. (Commenters with step-grandparent limbs on the family tree? Any personal suggestions?) That way you can still make her feel included, keep the hurt feelings to a minimum…and not make the family boundaries so distinct to your son as he gets older and starts trying to figure everyone out and where he fits in.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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99 Responses to “The Wicked Step…Grandmother?”

  1. Katie Oct 25 at 10:32 am Reply Reply

    I am in a similar situation and really empathize with the how hard it is to deal with divorce, blended families, etc. There can be a lot of baggage and I don’t want to sound like I am making light of that. That being said, before you say no to “grandma,” consider it from a practical perspective… what else is your baby going to call her? Mrs Smith? Her first name? I was a little unsure of my daughter calling my step mom (from recent marriage) “grandma,” but then I just couldn’t really imagine any other suitable option! And FWIW, my daughter is a year old and it now feels normal that she has 3 grandmas.

  2. Sunshine Oct 25 at 10:45 am Reply Reply

    My parents (and my husband’s parents) both divorced & remarried. So my kids have EIGHT grandparents and 11 great-grandparents. All have “grandparent names” of their choosing – from ‘grandma & grandpa lastname’ to ‘mimi and pappy’. Yeah, I grew up with divorced parents and my step-parents have been a part of life for, well, my whole life, so it was a no-brainer for me. For what it’s worth, my kids don’t think it’s weird, and my husband and I are just thankful that they have so many grandparents who love them.

  3. Courtney Oct 25 at 10:54 am Reply Reply

    We had a similar situation as well. My parents divorced, and my dad remarried – stepmom has five kids, then there’s my brother and me, and they recently adopted two little girls.

    Anyway, when my son came along – first grandchild for the family – my stepmom immediately asked if she could be called “Nonna.” Her family is Italian, and that’s what her kids call their grandmother, so it made sense, and it was perfect because it was a grandmother-y title without actually being “Grandma.” My husband’s parents have dubbed themselves “Gramma” and “Grampa,” while my parents are waiting to see what our son will call them. That’s one thing to keep in mind: your child might end up calling them something that he/she makes up himself, and I’m sure everyone will love those names.

    But Amy, the real question is: what should I call my in-laws? They sign all their cards/e-mails “Mom and Dad LastName,” but there’s no way I’m calling them Mom and Dad. Usually I just call them “hey . . . ” or “what do. . . you guys . . . want for dinner?” I’ve known them for eight years. I am awesome and mature.

  4. Therese Oct 25 at 10:59 am Reply Reply

    I agree with the previous commenter to look at this from a practical perspective. What can your child(ren) call this step-grandmother? It makes sense that the word “grandma” might not feel right for her position, but is the alternate to call her by her first name or Mrs. lastname? (Maybe it is?) If your husband is not comfortable with the word “grandma,” could he come up with an alternate title that would be acceptable to use? My Great-Grandmother died when my grandmother was only a few months old. When she was a few years old, her father remarried. My Grandmother had a close and loving relationship with her Step Mother but never called her Mom or Mother. Her name was Millicent and my Grandmother called her a nickname of that (Milli or something). When my mother and her siblings were born, they used the same word. Maybe coming up with a nickname based on her real name would work. Some good ones I’ve heard (used by actual grandchildren for their grandmothers) “Momma T,” “MoMo,” “Nini,” “Weezy” (this one is for someone named Louise), etc… Is your husband’s relationship strong enough with his father/step-mother that he could engage in a conversation about finding a suitable nickname that is comfortable and shows her a level of respect? Depending on personalities, that could turn into a really fun and funny conversation with a long list of potential endearing nicknames.

  5. Olivia Oct 25 at 11:06 am Reply Reply

    My family situation is a bit different, but we also have step-parents given the grandparent title. My in-laws are deceased, and my mother is married to a man she met after I finished college. Since I like him, and since there are no other grandparents to speak of, he gets to be called grandpa. However, I think even if there were other grandparents around, he would still get a grandparent title of some sort because he is married to my mom and he wants to be a grandfather to my children. Maybe not grandpa, but grampy or the like.

    Still, when my husband came to the U.S. he was “adopted” by a couple of motherly types who he cares for very much. So, even they get to be Grandma Shirley and Grandma Joann. Where he is from it’s really common to call the friends of your parents Auntie & Uncle simply as an honorific, so grandma and grandpa aren’t much of a stretch even if there is no blood relation.

  6. Christine Oct 25 at 11:09 am Reply Reply

    My own family has no divorces and the “Grandma” title was held pretty sacred, so I can see where this would be an issue.  My husband’s family however is a different story, and I am really glad that everything has already been sorted out by my nieces before my own daughter’s arrival!
    Hubby’s family has 2 different step parent/grandparent issues.  The first was for his father, whose parents had divorced when he was very young.  He was brought up by his mother and stepfather and very infrequently saw his father and stepmother.  This definitely translated over to the relationship his 3 sons (including my husband) had with them later on.  Rather than step-grandma having a “grandma” name, she was called her first name.  This definitely made the relationship a bit strange, and hubby says he never really knew how to interact with her.  Was she like a grandma?  An older relative without an endearment?  It was confusing to him and the relationship was a bit strained because he (and his brothers) just had no idea how to interact with her.
    Hubby’s own parents divorced when he was in high school, and now over 20 years later his father has remarried.  His step-mom is in fact “the other woman” from the divorce, and while she isn’t the warmest woman towards kids (she never had any and just doesn’t know how to interact with them) she is a nice person and wants to be included in the family.  My nieces needed a name to call her when they were little and while they started out with her first name (Joy), it quickly evolved into “Grandma Joy.”  It sets her apart from their maternal grandma (grandma) and paternal grandma (nana), and doesn’t seem to bother anyone.
    While the OW’s hubby definitely seems to see some importance tied to the actual “grandma” name, perhaps he can see that the little ones will need a title of some sort to use for their step-grandma.  While the title doesn’t need to be actually “grandma”, having a discussion with his dad about coming up with a different term would be easy to keep people separate.  As well, this little one is so lucky to have 3 older women excited to have him coming into the world!  This can only be a good thing.

  7. Kate Oct 25 at 11:09 am Reply Reply

    I totally agree wtih Amy’s advice that it’s worth burying the family drama for the sake of the baby. Also agree with her pointing out the awkwarness for your husband’s step-mother. My mom is the “step-grandmother” to my niece and nephew and I know it’s been really heartbreaking to her that they haven’t really embraced calling her grandma. Of course, she *knows* that they have a “real” grandma, but she would love to be all warm and fuzzy and give them candy when their parents aren’t looking too. Instead, she just feels kind of like an awkward outsider. I guess my take is: if someone wants to shower your child with love and warmth and free candy, why would you say no? I also think it was big of your FIL to bring this up with your husband first, so you husband should probably respond to him.

  8. Kim Oct 25 at 11:18 am Reply Reply

    Also, for the child, this person (the stepgrandmother) will have always been a part of his life… just like his “real” grandparents. I understand the husband’s feelings. I hope they can come up with a good alternative name… I love the name Nana.

  9. Amalah
    Amalah Oct 25 at 11:21 am Reply Reply

    Courtney -

    I’ve been married for TWELVE years and I still do that with my in-laws. I know they originally wanted the mom-and-dad titles and they still sometimes try to use them with me on cards or on the phone, but…yeah. I can’t. My husband at some point stopped dancing around with the “you…guys” stuff and just openly started using my parents’ first names. (They’d also made an effort at the mom/dad thing with him too.)

    Maybe in another 10 years I’ll have the balls to finally admit to them that the mom/dad names aren’t going to happen.

  10. Hil Oct 25 at 11:22 am Reply Reply

    And for another perspective, your kid may eventually make this decision for you.  My parents had taught me to call my dad’s stepmom by her first name, Colleen, which I did until I was old enough to realize she was my grandmother (duh!) and decided to address her that way.  Out of the three grandmas I have, she is by far my favorite, and it seems silly now that adults tried to impose their weird delineations on my relationships.

  11. Michelle Oct 25 at 11:30 am Reply Reply

    We have a similiar issue only my husband’s mother died shortly before we were married and his father remarried about a year later. My husband was nearly 37 when his dad remarried. He calls his stepmom by her name. Frankly I’m sure that she would like being referred to as grandma…yeah, that isn’t happening. Aside from the fact that she doesn’t especially ACT like a grandma. So my kids call her Nana or Nana FirstName.
    My vote would be for a similar nickname for the stepgrandmother.

  12. liz Oct 25 at 11:34 am Reply Reply

    My parents both come from blended families (death and remarriage), and in general, the step-parents were called “Grandma” and “Grandpa”. When my parents divorce and remarried, my step-parents parents became “Grandma” and “Grandpa”.

    And thus, my step-parents are “Grandma” and “Grandpa” BUT, my husband’s mother’s new husband (his father died shortly after we married) is “Papa FirstName”. Which is what he chose for himself since he “has his own grandchildren” (I know).

    Remember that your child will have his own relationship with the grandparental generation. Choose a name that shows love and respect.

    Bubbe (Yiddish), Tante (also Yiddish), Nonna, Mimi, Grandy…all are good if “Grandma” doesn’t make you feel comfortable.

  13. Bethany Oct 25 at 11:37 am Reply Reply

    My parents divorced when I was in my early 20′s. It wasn’t a happy splitting as there was adultery involved. My two sisters and I took it really hard and are still working on getting over it 5 years later. Both parents have since remarried- Dad 2 years ago and Mom 2 weeks ago. I still have trouble with calling either of them step-parents. I realize this is my issue, but then again, kids learn what to call things/people by what you call them. We all live in the same town, so we spend a lot of quality time together. I call each of them by their first names. My son is 17 months old, so each has been around since my son was born. My dad’s wife desperately wanted to be Grandma. I wasn’t cool with that, but she pushed the issue like she always has. She kept calling herself that when they would spend time together. My son started calling them Beepaw and Meemaw. It’s just what he came up with. My mom wanted to be Grammy. Her husband wanted to be Papa Dave. My son calls them Mimi and Peepaw. I completely understand the title thing. And in the end, your children will call them something, even if it’s not what you came up with.

  14. The Maiden Metallurgist Oct 25 at 11:37 am Reply Reply

    She may not have been your husband’s mother, but she will be your child’s grandmother- unless you decide to cut them out completely, which it doesn’t sound like you are doing.

  15. Camille Oct 25 at 12:00 pm Reply Reply

    We have no divorces in our family but my daughter has 6 grandparents. My mother and father are Grammie and Pop, my husband’s mother is Nana (her husband is deceased), our elderly neighbors are Nana and Poppy, and my boss and his wife are Robba (?) and Nanny. I don’t think a child can have too many people who love them whether they are blood relatives or not, and to start making distinctions among who ranks higher teaches them values that, if we sat down and considered it outside of this context, we wouldn’t want them to have. I hope your husband can see this.

  16. Penny Oct 25 at 12:29 pm Reply Reply

    I have a step grandfather, and we call him ‘granda john’ (our grandmother? Just ‘Grandma’) – my mother was felt the same way as your husband. As my brothers and i grew up, and became adult enough to understand their often difficult relationship on our own terms, we began to call him just John. Granda John means that he doesn’t feel alienated from being a grandparent – we are the only grandchildren he will have and loves us dearly and my grandmother didn’t feel rejected either, but gave enough distance for my mother to feel she was in control. Highly recommend it as a solution.

  17. Kate Oct 25 at 12:31 pm Reply Reply

    When I was growing up I called my grandparents Grandma and Grandpa except for my grandfather’s long-term (like 35 years long-term) girlfriend, who we called Grandma Grace. Adding the first name made it a bit more casual. Since the grandkids from my grandfather’s family were older than her own grandkids, they grew up calling her Grandma Grace as well.

    I now feel like I’ve taken something super-simple and made it unnecessarily complicated.

  18. redwoodmama Oct 25 at 12:32 pm Reply Reply

    Since the remarriage is relatively recent, it sounds like the husband’s issues are more about his father than the actual stepmother herself. But the baby doesn’t know and isn’t part of the backstory, and in his/her eyes this woman will be a grandmother. Nobody’s asking the husband to redefine his relationship with her. It’s not a matter of “get over it” – just a step back, look at the big picture, and allow his child’s relationships with them to build. If it doesn’t feel right that she should have the exact same title as his mom (and that’s fair, his mom absolutely should have first choice) pick another grandma name. And then relax and let everyon enjoy the little one. from the baby’s perspective, the more grandparents the better! My lo’s have a Grandy, Gramps, (great) Grandma, Papa, and Grandma Jill, as well as the peripheral Grammy K and Ima (friends of the family) and Grandma Anita (my SIL’s mother) These things work themselves out.

  19. JB Oct 25 at 12:34 pm Reply Reply

    Agreed w/these!

    My suggestion is that when they visit, say “Oh we would LOVE if he called you GiGi [or Nonna, or Grandy, or...]. Doesn’t that sound so sweet? Here little son, say hi to your Gigi!!” They will just be overwhelmed with cuteness, and how can you resist a name like that :) . Then your husband’s mother can be called “Granny” or whatever and everyone is (fairly) happy.

    I’m glad that the other point was brought up – I still have no idea what to call my bf’s parents though I have known them for 5.5 years and we’ve gone on vacation together, etc….They are from a different culture and if I try to pronounce their names I just sound silly…I’m so glad I’m not the only one who uses “you guys”!! I think I’ll just use “you guys” forever until (if) we have children, then I’ll just refer to them as their “grandparent” names. I’m so lame, lol.

  20. Sarah in LA Oct 25 at 12:36 pm Reply Reply

    My dad married my stepmom when I was 11. I call her by her first name, but I wouldn’t have any problem with any kids I have in the future calling her grandma. The kid won’t ever know any different, and I think making an issue of it would just alienate my stepmom, and I love her and wouldn’t want to hurt her feelings, especially since she and my dad have been married for over 20 years.
    Your situation is a little different since your husband’s dad remarried later, but still, it would cause unnecessary friction to make an issue of what name she’s called. Also, I think that your husband’s dad acknowledged it might be an issue by even asking in the first place – wouldn’t this be a great time to make the stepgrandma feel welcome? Maybe she’s worried about it. When my dad and stepmom got married, her parents welcomed me and my brother immediately as part of the family, with the attitude that more love and family is always better!

  21. Brittany Oct 25 at 12:37 pm Reply Reply

    My grandfather died before my birth and grandmother’s new husband was named Roger, which got shortened to Rog (soft g sound) the entire time I was growing up during their nearly 25 year marriage. Close to the time of grandma’s death, we all started calling him Grandpa Rog. It really wasn’t a big deal to any of us kids.

    My husbands’ parents had an ugly divorce, and all the grandkids all call his wife Grandma Helen. I doubt that my husband’s mom likes it, but she deals with her issues.

    The child doesn’t care about the divorce, and picking a fight over what to call the step-grandmother is only going to cause hurt feelings and problems down the line. Kids can’t have too much family that loves them. While it might be weird for your husband, it will be the only situation your child will have ever known, and to him their divorce will be ancient history.

  22. bethany actually Oct 25 at 12:38 pm Reply Reply

    She may not be your husband’s mom, but since she’s married to his dad she WILL be your child’s grandma. And really, can a kid ever have too many grandmas!? My daughter calls several good family friends “Grandma Sue” or Grandma Grace” even though they’re not related to us at all, and at least one of my good friends is “Auntie Erin.” I think it’s a nice way to honor a close relationship, bestowing a family honorific on someone.

    I say, ask your husband’s dad and his wife, “What do you want to be called by our child?” They might have their own ideas about that which will be a nice compromise, you never know!

  23. AJU5's Mom Oct 25 at 12:38 pm Reply Reply

    There is no divorce in our families (in terms of grandparents), but my kids have three living great-grandparents. One pair is fairly young and an active part of our kids’ lives. When they visits in the Spring, we tried doing great-granddad and great-grandma with our then 29 mo. She couldn’t get it. So, we just went with Grandma and Granddad – and she is fine with that. So, she has two grandmas, a granny, a granddad, a grandpa, and a grampy. My only other idea would maybe to use “Aunt” if you didn’t want to use grandma, but I think that would confuse a young child when he/she realized that the counterpart was grandpa…

  24. Sarah in LA Oct 25 at 12:39 pm Reply Reply

    My dad married my stepmom when I was 11. I call her by her first name, but I wouldn’t have any problem with any kids I have in the future calling her grandma. The kid won’t ever know any different, and I think making an issue of it would just alienate my stepmom, and I love her and wouldn’t want to hurt her feelings, especially since she and my dad have been married for over 20 years.
    Your situation is a little different since your husband’s dad remarried later, but still, it would cause unnecessary friction to make an issue of what name she’s called. Also, I think that your husband’s dad acknowledged it might be an issue by even asking in the first place – wouldn’t this be a great time to make the stepgrandma feel welcome? Maybe she’s worried about it. On the flip side, when my dad and stepmom got married, her parents welcomed me and my brother immediately as part of the family, with the attitude that more love and family is always better!

  25. Jenni Oct 25 at 12:40 pm Reply Reply

    My grandpa didn’t marry my grandma until well after my brother (the oldest grandchild) was born. As a matter of fact, my brother was the ring bearer in their wedding. Even though he wasn’t my moms dad until very late in life, he was grandpa!

    Add to that, my mom’s dad was involved until that point and, things being what they were, I never knew him as a grandpa. I actually never knew until junior high the whole dynamics…it didn’t matter…he was grandpa because he ACTED like grandpa. Had no one told me that he was a “step” grandpa, I never would have known.

    If she is going to be grandma, and act like it, then grandma it is! Just my opinion. It’s not your husbands fault his parents divorced, the parents will have to deal with hurt feelings, not you.

  26. Beth Oct 25 at 12:46 pm Reply Reply

    My mom is called Nonna – Italian for grandmother
    My Dad is grandpa or pop-pop
    My FIL is also Pop-pop
    My Step mother is Grandma or Grandma Holly
    My MIL is Grammy.

    There are so many names for grand parents that there will be something that your son eventually lands on. Try to pick something easy (My kid picked up Nonna and pop-pop really easily so a repetitive sound is probably your best bet) and even let your MIL pick her name first. That might smooth it over for both her and your husband.

  27. PaintingChef Oct 25 at 12:53 pm Reply Reply

    I have a step-grandmother. My dad’s parents got divorced when I was maybe 4 or 5 and his father quickly remarried. I have always called his wife by her name, “Joyce”, but that hasn’t ever made me think of her as not a grandmother. And she was never a substitute grandmother or one that was meant to take the place of my dad’s mother. I just… had an extra. And of course my dad never thought of her as his stepmother. He was grown and had a child of his own when his father remarried. But as someone else pointed out, that didn’t make her NOT a grandmother figure to me. I would suggest coming to a compromise on a grandmother name. There’s no reason every grandparent has to be called the same thing anyway. Come to think of it, NONE of my grandparents had traditional names… and that’s all it will be anyway, whether your husband likes it or not, your child will view his father’s wife as a grandparent. Without a really awkward conversation that would inevitably be beyond their maturity level, that’s just what will happen. And grandparents are great! Much like shoes and cake… the more the merrier.

  28. Christen Oct 25 at 12:58 pm Reply Reply

    As someone who grew up with stepgrandparents who welcomed her with open arms and never introduced me as their “stepgranddaughter” or anything, I have to concur that your little one is so lucky to have all these people clamoring to be part of her life! Anyhoo, it’s likely your kiddo will end up coming up with a nickname for your stepmother-in-law (and all the grandparents, really), and that will stick, thus rendering the Grandma Debate over. Maybe for now, you can refer to her as “Grandma First Name” in her presence, especially if you don’t see them much. It will keep the peace, and over time your husband may relax about the title and its significance.

  29. Alanna Oct 25 at 1:02 pm Reply Reply

    Hoboy – I sort of had this as a child and we are definitely dealing with this now as I am expecting the first grandchild on both sides.

    I grew up with a step-grandfather who I and my cousins and siblings all just called Grandpa (first name). My mom’s dad had died when she was a teenager and her mom remarried after my mom was in college. So there wasn’t a competing grandpa in the picture. However, my mom and her siblings never grew up with my grandpa either and definitely did not see him in anyway as a father figure (and as we all found out as young adults, didn’t actually like him at all). But we all still called him Grandpa and saw him as our grandfather. It would have been really awkward for us as kids if we had to call him something different.

    My parents are divorced, and my Dad has a girlfriend with kids that he lives with, but is not married to but seems to be a relatively permanent part of his life so we’re still trying to figure out what his girlfriend should be called. We will probably go with some variant on grandma though because it seems like it will be less awkward for our child, even if it’s awkward for us.

  30. Julie Oct 25 at 1:03 pm Reply Reply

    I think an alternate name, other than the “Grandma” moniker, would be perfect in this situation. Something like Gram, Grammy, or Nana or Gigi, etc. Not the revered “Grandma”, but still a very special and title indicative of her grandmother-ly status. You could always just say that your mom called dibs on the “Grandma” name, so you guys want her to have her own special name to avoid confusion!

  31. Procrastamom Oct 25 at 1:28 pm Reply Reply

    My husband has a step-father who married his mother (husband’s mother, not the step-father’s…that would be weird…and wrong) the same year we got married. Step-father had never had kids of his own, so it took him a while to warm up to all us rowdies…what with inheriting adult step-children and then a grandchild within a year. He was a little overwhelmed! Anyways, almost 20 years later and he definitely qualifies as the favourite grandfather in the family. Our kids call him Poppa. They call my dad Grandad and hubby’s real dad Grandpa. I think it helps to extend an olive branch to the “outsiders” in the family, so that they don’t continue to feel that way. Maybe you could facilitate that with she who wants to be Grandma. How about suggesting that she be Nana instead or Granny or Nanny or Oma….OR!!! How cool would it be if you lived in Texas and your kids called her MEEMAW??!!! (like Sheldon on BBT)

  32. Candace Oct 25 at 1:29 pm Reply Reply

    I had a step-grandmother, who my grandpa married the year my parents were married. I was a honeymoon baby and whoa that issue came up FAST. I think the difference is my maternal grandmother died when my mom was 17, so I didn’t have another person to call Grandma. But I will say, that when I was old enough to grasp the concept, I want to say 9 or 10?, my mom explained that my grandma wasn’t her mommy, and that she was my step-grandmother technically, but that she was my grandma. So it was always grandma for me, and Grandma Claire for my parents. She passed away on 9/11 and was a really really great lady. I am glad that I was able to call her Grandma. I think in many ways, my mom was so ready for a motherly type figure in those crazy postpartum days that Claire helped fill that void a little. Nothing like her real mother would have, but certainly helpful and she was always very grateful for her kindness.

  33. Procrastamom Oct 25 at 1:34 pm Reply Reply

    I have just made an executive decision that when I become a grandma, I will be MEEMAW. Also, I don’t care that I don’t live in Texas. I will just visit there once before I become a grandparent and then I can declare myself MEEMAW.

  34. Shannon W. Oct 25 at 1:34 pm Reply Reply

    I say ask her what she wants to be called and then go with that..possibly adding her first name if that makes it more comfortable for your husband. My dad died before my kids were born and my mom dated her next love for 10 years before they got married. My mom is Nonna to all the grandchildren. Her husband is Papaw FirstName to my kids and my brother’s kids and just Papaw to his biological grandkids. For a while my daughter just called him FirstName like we did, but we slowly started using Papaw FirstName more after my son was born and have used it exclusively since the wedding. My kids also call my Sister-in-law’s mother Grandma FirstName; it just fits and matches what their cousin’s are saying.

  35. My parents are still married, but they have cute names that I wanted to share. When our first son was born, my mom spent countless hours trying to get him to say “Grandmama” — which was totally unreasonable since he didn’t even start to talk until 19 months and then only said one-syllable words. My dad had more realistic expecations and got him to say “Pop” almost right away. And then Nathaniel (my son) customized it for my mom — since, after all, she seemed to “go” with my dad — and started calling her “Mop.” And it totally stuck. Our boys are 8, 6 and 2, and they call my parents “Mop and Pop” … and of course my mom loves it and takes complete credit for it.

  36. Maura Oct 25 at 1:42 pm Reply Reply

    One of my friends called her grandmother “Bubbles,” which is my all-time favorite name for a grandparent. We called my maternal grandfather “Sir,” totally our own term of endearment. It started out as a joke when I was born and stuck through twelve grandkids. (Now I’m sad. Sir died last year. I miss him.)

  37. Shannon W Oct 25 at 1:42 pm Reply Reply

    opps – I also wanted to agree with what others are saying regarding the fact that a person can be your kid’s grandparent even if you have no parental feelings for that person. I do not consider the man my mom married after by dad died to be my step-dad (though I have long considered him to be part of our family) but he is a wonderful grandfather to my kids.

  38. Betsy Oct 25 at 1:55 pm Reply Reply

    My son has biological paternal grandparents that he hardly ever sees. But when they did come around, he called them Nana and Grandpa. He calls my dad, Papa (first name) and Beeba (my dad’s girlfriend). My mom died when he was two but he called her Nana also. He calls by inlaws Nana and Papa (first name). If he saw the biological grandparents more often it might get confusing, but this is what worked for us.

  39. Val Oct 25 at 2:25 pm Reply Reply

    Growing up we solved this EXACT problem by calling one Grandma and the other Grandma Carolyn. The first name made it more informal and didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings.

  40. Angela Oct 25 at 2:31 pm Reply Reply

    My parents divorced when I was 9 and both were remarried by the time I was 12. My sisters and I called all of the step-grandparents that we inherited by their first names, and it was no big deal. Now that I have a son (and the only grandchild on my side of the family) we have gone with Grandma and Grandpa First Name for my step-parents, and Grams, Grandma, Grandpa and Grandad for the other grandparents. My mom wanted to come up with a special name for my son to call her, but I wouldn’t let her, and now I wish that I had. It wasn’t that big of a deal, and I feel bad that I was such a bully. Oh well.

  41. Angela Oct 25 at 2:32 pm Reply Reply

    My parents divorced when I was 9 and both were remarried by the time I was 12. My sisters and I called all of the step-grandparents that we inherited by their first names, and it was no big deal. Now that I have a son (and the only grandchild on my side of the family) we have gone with Grandma and Grandpa First Name for my step-parents, and Grams, Grandma, Grandpa and Grandad for the other grandparents. My mom wanted to come up with a special name for my son to call her, but I wouldn’t let her, and now I wish that I had. It wasn’t that big of a deal, and I feel bad that I was such a bully. Oh well.

  42. Julie Oct 25 at 2:54 pm Reply Reply

    I think you have to look at it from the child’s perspective. The kids aren’t going to know the whole sordid history of the family tree and shouldn’t be put into a position of having to make that difference. Although my stepmother and I were never close when I was growing up, my kids call her Grandma [First name] just as they call my mom and my mother-in-law “Grandma [First name}”. She has a grandmotherly role in their lives and it seemed just mean and petty to encourage the kids to make that distinction. They kids will grow up knowing which grandparents are special in their lives and are the “grandma” of their hearts. I like the alternatives of coming up with some other grandmotherly type name for Stepmom. Who knows…maybe the other two grandmas want different names too. It would sure make it easier to keep track of which grandma is which when talking to the munchkins!

  43. Jen K. Oct 25 at 2:57 pm Reply Reply

    My mother is “Grammy Shirley” to my stepdaughter; she is “Grammy” to all the other grandkids. My stepmother, Mary, (my dad re-married after I got out of grad school) is “Gram-Mary”
    to my kids.

  44. Katie Ceary Oct 25 at 2:58 pm Reply Reply

    My paternal grandmother died before I was born, and my grandfather married a wonderful widowed lady when I was little. My cousins and I call her Nana Renee to distinguish her from our deceased grandmother, but it does not make us feel any differently about her. We definitely see her as a grandmother and love her that way.

  45. Amy Oct 25 at 3:09 pm Reply Reply

    My parents are divorced and remarried, and so are my husband’s, and then my dad divorced his second wife AFTER she was already “Gramma” and my husband’s mom divorced her second husband after he was already “Grandpa” and HOLY CRIPES could people just learn to stay married, already, because it’s really screwing up the family tree!!??

    In our own family (my husband’s and mine) we choose a policy of inclusion, not exclusion, which means that step-parents are “grandma and grandpa,” always, even when one of them is a raging lunatic bitch (no really, she is). We call our step-siblings “aunt and uncle” and their kids “cousins” even when the same courtesy/respect is not given back to us.

    Because to do it any other way would be confusing to our kids, and would be exclusive, and we don’t want to be exclusive with our affection and respect, even when those very same people instruct their kids to call us by our names instead of “aunt and uncle.” We try to take the high road, and sometimes it sucks (seriously, because a good half of our step-everthings are certifiably insane).

    With eight grandparents and countless dozens of aunts/uncles/cousins, it’s the only way. And we honestly see them so rarely that it is hardly ever an issue. Our kids know who loves them, and that’s enough. As they get older, we’ll allow them to choose to call their step-relatives whatever they’re comfortable with, but at least we’ll know we’ve chosen to not exclude anyone, and we’ll know that our choices couldn’t have hurt anyone’s feelings (even if their choices sometimes hurt ours, but I’m not bitter, and like I said they’re a bunch of frigging nutcases so it’s really their loss, anyway…)

  46. Ms. K Oct 25 at 3:20 pm Reply Reply

    An ex-boyfriend of mine had, like nine assorted grandparents or something. He was from LA and both his parents and grandparents all had very torrid and complex marriage histories. At any rate he referred to all of his various grandparents with the “grand__” title, and had good relationships with all of them. We could drop in unannounced to say hi, many of them came to parties, etc etc. Not all of them were still married to any of his blood relatives. It was a very cordial and happy situation. I was impressed.

    He referred to his stepmother by her first name, but I’m sure his kids, should he have any, will call her grandma.

  47. Susan Oct 25 at 3:32 pm Reply Reply

    I second the suggestion of coming up with a special name that is a good alternative to Grandma. I have a relative who married a widower with adult children and several grandkids. The older grandkids have called her by her first name, but the younger ones wanted a special name. “Grandma” was out of the question (since Grandma is in the cemetery), so they settled on Nanna. That way the kids still get to acknowledge the special relationship.

  48. Julie Oct 25 at 3:35 pm Reply Reply

    My son calls my stepmother Grammy. Yet another one of those kid picked names. I never honestly cared what he called her. Just because you don’t consider someone like a mother doesn’t mean your children won’t consider them to be their grandparent. It might sound harsh, but I feel that in this situation, her husband needs to suck it up and act like an adult. It’s about his child’s relationship with this woman, not his own.

  49. Lisa Oct 25 at 4:29 pm Reply Reply

    A word of assvice — let the husband’s MOM pick what she wants to be called first, then let stepmom pick. My friend’s mom was heartbroken that her ex-husband’s wife announced — in the hospital waiting room — “I’m gonna be Mimi!” when my friend’s mom wanted to be Mimi, not “Grandma” like she is now. (She was too nice to say, “Um, that’s what I was going to be called.”)

  50. Kathie Oct 25 at 4:32 pm Reply Reply

    We have exactly the same situation in our family, in that my husband’s parents have both remarried, and whilst my husband grew up with his mother’s new partner in the home, his father has only been with his new wife for about the past 10 years, and so there are no motherly feelings at all.
    When I got pregnant, it was just assumed that my husband’s stepparents were going to be grandparents as well, and I was ok with that (working on the principle that a child can never have too many people who worship the ground they walk on, surely, plus we wanted to avoid the issues of complicated relationships that our little boy can’t be expected to understand for a while yet), but my husband felt it necessary for there to be a distinction between the “real” grandparents and the step-grandparents, plus my mother-in-law expressed some serious jealousy issues at the idea of my stepmother-in-law being a grandmother as well (a whoooole other story), so we decided that my husband’s parents should simply be Oma and Opa (we live in Germany and my husband is German), and the stepgrandparents are Oma Helga and Opa Otto (their real first names, believe it or not).

  51. Valerie Oct 25 at 4:37 pm Reply Reply

    We have a similar situation: our son has three sets of grandparents. They all have their own special names.

    My mom and her husband are Grandma and Grandpa.

    My dad and his wife are Gramps and Mimi.

    My husband’s parents are Mamaw and Papaw.

    I would suggest first asking the biological grandmothers what they’d prefer to be called and go from there.

  52. Ginny Oct 25 at 4:54 pm Reply Reply

    My life long friend has a three year old son, Alex. As far as he is concerned, I am his aunt. Two years ago, when Hurricane Ike crippled Houston, my friend and her family came to stay with boyfriend, my mom, and I. Alex knew my mom but he was at that age where he was figuring out relationships and after a week of living with us, he just couldn’t figure her out. So, he called her “Buddy’ and it stuck. My mom is Buddy to all kids now. She will be Buddy to my kids some day I love how Alex, in his own little mind, decided how she would fit in to his life. She’s one of his favorite people in the world!

    Along the same vein, my friends sister has three kids. When the youngest, “B”, was one-ish, my friend and her husband were living with her in-laws. B would go to visit my friend and he was confused about who the older woman was. He loved her though, and one day started calling her “Nana.” As the kids got bitter, they stopped calling her that, but the name stuck. Alex calls her that and so will my kids.

    Nana’s husband was nameless when Alex was born. No one was sure what to call him, and he wasn’t sure what he wanted to be called. He was content to let Alex call his whatever he wanted to. But, in the meantime, we all called him “Grump-pa”. At around two years of age, Alex looked at us one day after we said “Grump-pa” and said very seriously “NO, Papa!” And now, he’s Papa.

    These situations aren’t exactly like yours, but I have always believed that in some cases, we pick our family. And maybe your child isn’t exactly picking your husband’s step-mother. She is a part of his family and his life.

    So, I agree with may other commenters, give her her own special name.

  53. Grammy Oct 25 at 5:44 pm Reply Reply

    I am that step-grandmother. My husband’s divorce was bitter and the wounds long-lasting, but that has nothing to do with the fabulous little just-past-first-birthday grandson. Our daughter calls me by my first name, even though her “real” mother wasn’t much part of her life growing up — it just made her uncomfortable to call two women “Mom”. I helped raise her and we are close, and it doesn’t bother me that I am referred to by my first name, even though she often introduces me as her mom. Before the baby was born, she and her husband asked us what we would like to be called. I chose “Grammy” because I figured it would be easier for the little one to have distinguishing names for each grandparent, and “Grandma” was most likely already taken.
    So I am Grammy. When he learns to count, maybe it will be a point of interest that he has 3 grandmothers, or maybe it won’t. We don’t care. My grandson smiles and claps his hands when he sees me, and that’s all the evidence any of us needs to know that the more people who love a child, the better off the world is.
    It’s the same for an earlier generation here. My husband’s mother died when he and his siblings were already grown and out of the home, but while the oldest grandchildren were still babies. His stepmother is the only grandmother any of the kids have known, and they all have always called her Grandma. She is also accorded the honor of being Great-Grandma to the newest members of the family, and no one would dream of giving up the love she’s brought to all of us.

  54. Erika Oct 25 at 5:45 pm Reply Reply

    This topic can be tricky when the grandparent has a live-in. My “almost step-mother-in-law” is a much more wonderful person, in every way, than my actual mother-in-law and I wish I could have the guts to ask her what she wanted to be called, but my sil had her kids refer to her as Miss FirstName before mine came along so we adopted what they were doing, to keep things easier to figure out. I would really like my DD to call her something more grandama-ish, but I just feel like I will end up ruffling feathers.

  55. JenVegas Oct 25 at 6:49 pm Reply Reply

    Oh nerds, I haven’t even thought about this issue! My husband has a step-father of sorts that he acquired late in life. We just call him Richard. Both of his parents are still living and his dad has some sort of live-in girlfriend that we’re not sure what to make of.
    My parents divorced when I was very young and I know my mom wants to be Grandma. But my dad, who is gay, has been in a long-term relationship with his partner. I just call him Mike but hrm…he’s not really my step anything and I don’t really think of him as a parent because he came along when I was well into adulthood and then there’s the whole gay thing that will need to be explained at some point. Maybe all of the grandpas get their first names tagged on? Grandpa Lou, Grandpa George, Grandpa Mike? Oy…Is he an Uncle? Maybe he’s an uncle. I guess it’s better to be thinking about this now than have it come up out of the blue later right? Dang it.

  56. Rebecca Oct 25 at 7:20 pm Reply Reply

    I have a step-grandmother that I call by her first name…but, it is because my grandmother died when I was eight and my grandfather remarried. My kids call her great-grandma or great-grandma first name (because there is another great-grandma).

    My husbands mother died when he was in high school. His dad remarried the same year my husband and I married. He and I both call his step- mom by her first name and our kids call her Grandma.

  57. jenny Oct 25 at 7:32 pm Reply Reply

    My Grandpa got remarried about a year after my Grandma died when I was 8. I was the oldest grandchild and there were 4 other ones who had been born at that time. Eventually, there were 14 grandchildren, so she was the only ‘grandma’ figure they ever knew (and in reality even though there were 5 grandkids when my grandma died, I am the only one with any sort of memory of her. None of us ever really called my step-grandma, ‘grandma’. Now, she was kind of a mean old bat who really didn’t care for kids, so she wasn’t really looking for any grandkids. But it would have been nice if she had wanted to be called grandma. Kids can always use someone to love!

  58. cassie Oct 25 at 8:26 pm Reply Reply

    Heh. I’m another one with her own step-grandma. She married my grandpa when I was just six, and I never new my ‘real’ grandmother because she died when i was an infant. Because she was very conscious of the fact that she was a ‘step’, she requested that all the grandkids call her by her first name. And… it never bothered me really, except for the fact that as far as *I* am concerned she’s the only grandma I have on that side of the family and I kinda wish she had the honorary title, too, ya know? And now my son will call her by her first name too, and I find that super sad. She IS his great-grandma and I want that known to him!
    So now that I got that out of the way – I agree with previous commenters that maybe dad’s mom should pick what she wants to be called and then stepmom can choose something different but still with more meaning than just plain Sally.

  59. Jenn Bo Oct 25 at 8:34 pm Reply Reply

    My parents divorced-remarried when I was young. My step-grandmas were called Grandma “first-name”. One definitely saw herself as a grandparent and the other not-so-much, but as a kid I would have felt awkward to call either of them Mrs. so-and-so or by their first name. With my step-mom, I don’t necessarily consider her a “mom”, yet she definitely taught me many things to which I am eternally grateful. My step-mom gets to have the grandma title. Funny enough, my brother’s kids have 4 sets of grandparents (2 divorced sides). They all had to chose a grandparent monikor (Pops, Granpa D, Grams, Gramps, Granny, etc.). I say let biological grandmas choose their monikor first and then ask step-grandma to choose something unique to her. If this isn’t the first grand-child then I suppose they already have them.

  60. Lizzie Oct 25 at 9:14 pm Reply Reply

    There’s a lot of responses! But I’ll put my 2 cents in! I agree with Amy (as usual!). Does your husband’s mother have children of her own? In my family, my mother has been married 3 times. I am not close, but still in contact, with my real father. I was raised and am still in contact with my first stepfather, and am very fond of my mother’s current husband, whom she married a few years ago. In my husband’s family, his parents divorced and his father remarried. We each have 3 step-siblings. My 7 month old daughter was the first grandchild and we had the “deciding what to call everyone” dilemma as well. My real father and first stepfather get grandpa titles, and we left it up to my mother and her husband as to what his title would be. One of my step-sisters is pregnant and we assume there will be many more grandchildren on the way, so we want our children to call my mother’s husband the same name as all her [step]cousins. We did the same on my husband’s side with his stepmother.

    So maybe talk with your husband about situations like this that may arise…is there extended family? Step sibling/grandkids/cousins? Family get-togethers and holidays? I was an only child until my mother’s recent marriage, so personally I am thrilled to now have a large extended family for my daughter to be a part of, and want her to feel as much a part of that as possible as she grows up!

  61. professormama Oct 25 at 9:15 pm Reply Reply

    I grew up with step grandparents and some temporary step grandparents all of whom were called by their first name, it wasn’t a big deal, and we never questioned it as kids, we understood simply that they were not the same as a grandmother or grandfather.  
    My husband’s parents are divorced and my kids call my mother-in-law’s partner by his first name, we think he’s great and they’ve been together for 10 years.
    My son asked once about who was who, and why his dad’s parents don’t live together, we explained it, and it was no big deal.
    My father-in-law has had different girlfriends who also are called by their first name, as far as we are concerned even if he got remarried it doesn’t make someone a grandparent, if the kids want to give a grandparent title to step-grandparents it’s up to them. 

  62. Courtney Oct 25 at 9:45 pm Reply Reply

    Oh, Amy, I’m glad to hear that! My husband calls my parents by their first names because they asked him to when we first started dating. His parents never made any such offer, so instead I end up sounding like Sloth from The Goonies whenever they come visit. Hey, you guys . . .! Ugh.

  63. Erin Oct 25 at 10:59 pm Reply Reply

    My Mom died a little less than two years ago, and my oldest son knew her very well, and was very close with her. My youngest son was born 8 months after she died. She will ALWAYS be Grandma to them, no matter what. My dad remarried very quickly — strained circumstances with all of us. I am 35 years old — this woman will never be my “step-mom”, she is my Dad’s wife. She will never be my children’s “Grandma”, she will always be their Granddad’s wife, in my eyes . . . of course, that could change through the years, depending upon what happens. But, here’s the thing — we have a strained relationship with my Dad. The kids know their Granddad, but even though he lives only 5 min’s away, they rarely see him — he is an active alcoholic with lots of health problems. We live in the south, so it’s easy and natural just to call her by her first name, with a “Miss” in front. That’s what we do with most adults. So, she’s Miss Kathie. Here’s the other thing — I don’t WANT them to get too attached to her, b/c it won’t be consistent and it probably won’t be permanent — considering my Dad’s poor health. They already lost their Grandma, and we don’t know anything about this woman — she just fell into the picture a few months after my Mom died, and my Dad married her without telling anyone. My Dad is probably not going to live to see my kids grow up (i don’t mean to sound harsh, it’s just the reality — so complicated and sad), and I cannot see us having any kind of relationship with her after he dies. Also, we don’t know if they will stay together — we have no reason to think they won’t, and no reason to think they will. SO . . . it can be a complicated situation. If you hardly know the new Husband/Wife, it’s hard to accept and harder to let your kids get attached to a relationship that feels so new and perhaps non-permanent.

    I think an appropriate nickname that shows respect can be a good first step when a relationship is new. That way, the wife feels respected and included, and everyone can figure out their places as the years go by. If you are “lucky” enough to live in the south or have southern connections — there you go — “Miss so and so” it is!

    Good luck!

    Erin

  64. ksmaybe Oct 25 at 11:39 pm Reply Reply

    Just to echo what other have said….keep it simple for the child. My dad just remarried this year, and DS at 3 solved the question before I had even considered it….we were looking at photos and he pointed to my Dad’s wife and said ‘other Grandma’. I hesitated, not having considered what he would call her, and not completely loving the sound of Grandma, but you know what, there was no way to explain to him what the deal was. So, all of his grandmas, are grandmas :)

  65. Jenna Oct 26 at 12:35 am Reply Reply

    I grew up with my mother’s parents married, they were gramma and grampa, sometimes paired with their first names to differentiate. My father’s parents divorced when he was young, but his father remarried not long before my sister was born. He is papa, and she is mammo. My dad’s mom is gramma, too.

  66. Erin Oct 26 at 10:04 am Reply Reply

    We have one biological grandma and two step/ex grandmas in our family. My husbands father was widowed at a young age and remarried years later, had another kid, and then later divorced and remarried years later. So while my mom is just Grammy, we do have a Grandma and a Grandma . I should add that we see Grammy pretty regularly. The other two grandma’s we see once a year. (Yes, my husband’s first step-mother is still called grandma, simply because she raised my husband for 5 years and they’ve always stayed in touch because of my brother-in-law. Her husband is not grandpa, simply because my husband was long, long out of the picture when she married him.)

  67. andrea Oct 26 at 10:39 am Reply Reply

    Here is a list of alternate names:
    http://www.banananana.com/ReadNames.asp

  68. Mary Oct 26 at 11:03 am Reply Reply

    I dont have the whole … split family thing going on, but for my children, my mother in law is “Grammy” and my mom is “mom-mom”. It works for us. There are a ton of names out there. godd luck

  69. Lydia Oct 26 at 11:07 am Reply Reply

    So my brother’s kids have LOADS of grandparents. Both sets of parents are divorced and both dads are remarried, both moms are single. This means 2 grandpas and 4 grandmas. The Grandpas are called “Grandpa Firstname”. The step-grandmas are called “Grandma Firstname”. The bio grandmas are called Yaya and Gigi. GOOD LUCK! It’s never a bad thing to have more adults loving your children!

  70. Christina Oct 26 at 11:18 am Reply Reply

    How about a boyfriend? My MIL has been going out with this guy for a year now..maybe a few months more than that. What happens when she wants him to called grandpa in some way and my husband and I are against that? especially the way my mil goes through men, I’d rather not have just any man called grandpa, even if this guy ends up sticking around a while.

  71. Eileen Oct 26 at 12:37 pm Reply Reply

    When I was growing up, we always called our grandmothers “grandma” and our grandfathers “grandpa.” It didn’t confuse us that we had two grandmas or two grandpas, and one set of grandparents wasn’t offended that the other set was called the exact same thing. Could everyone just be over thinking this?

  72. Carolyn Oct 26 at 12:57 pm Reply Reply

    My mom’s father remarried when she was a teenager (to a woman it has become increasingly clear over the years is incredibly manipulative and mentally ill. My mother has NEVER been close to this woman in any way). ALL of my grandparents, however, have always been Grandma/Grandpa (first name) and so she got the same title. It didn’t occur to me until much later in life that she was the only one my mom called by her first name, simply because it was part of her title. I think that was a nice way of allowing my mom to keep her distance but not changing anything for her kids. We’ve all figured out that she’s not someone you want to be close to, but we’ve done it on our own time without ever being “poisoned” against her.

  73. C's aunt Oct 26 at 1:04 pm Reply Reply

    My brother’s 10-year-old (daddy’s little) girl has 3 sets of grandparents: our parents (m. 56 yrs – no blended family there); Grandma F and (step) Grandpa H; and Grandma X and Grandpa Y (can’t remember their names but very sweet people). X and Y are the parents of my SIL’s ex and grand parents to my niece’s half-brother and -sister. X and Y treat her as their own grandchild and are very involved in her life. I see no downside whatsoever in having as many grandparent figures in a child’s life. Between all the doting grandparents and a crazy number of aunts, uncles and cousins (SIL is one of 10 kids) my niece knows she’s very loved. It takes a village!

  74. Jaymee Oct 26 at 1:59 pm Reply Reply

    My son has 4 sets of grandparents. Two Grandmas, two Grandpas, one Nana, one Papa, one Granny, and one Grandad. Both my family and my husband’s family are divorced and remarried. The way we saw it was even though our step parents aren’t the same to us as our parents, it all happened before our son was born. It’s not like some random people came in to his life when he was 8 years old asking to be called Grandma or Grandpa. We figured since they all wanted to BE grandparents to him then he can call all of them by a grandparent name. Then again maybe we are just weird. I have a cousin and his wife that I’m really close to. Instead of saying second cousin and second cousins wife, my son just calls them Aunt and Uncle.

  75. Brianne Oct 26 at 2:49 pm Reply Reply

    Our little boy will have 3 sets of grandparents when he arrives in January. My husbands parents are divorced and both remarried after all their children were grown. Although neither his step-mother or step-father were parents to him really in any way, they are definitely the grandparents of our nieces and nephew and will be for our son.
    Babies are magic in the way they help build bridges in otherwise awkward or uncomfortable situations. The commonality is the love everyone has for that tiny baby. Take advantage of it! :)

  76. Salome Ellen Oct 26 at 3:43 pm Reply Reply

    My husband’s parents divorced and remarried AFTER we had kids. Our solution, which seems to make everybody happy, is Grandpa and Grandma “Jane” (the preferred grandparent titles from his family) and Nana and Papa “Bob ( the titles from her side.)

  77. Caitlyn Oct 26 at 8:22 pm Reply Reply

    my mom’s mom was the second of my mom’s dad’s three wives (which sounds like polygamy, and it wasn’t, but as Grandaddy thought it was just hilarious when someone said he was a “serial polygamist” I don’t think he’d mind) and we called his first wife by her first name and his third wife Amma, which I gather is Icelandic.

    My parents decided on Pappa and Mima, after extended deliberation.

  78. Kari Weber Oct 26 at 10:33 pm Reply Reply

    My mother is GramMY… My MIL is GramMA and my father (the only grandfather) is “Hon”… My oldest son started this when he was little because that is what my mom called my dad, “Hon, can you get the paper?” “Hon, can you pick that up for me?” One day my son started saying, “Hon! Hon! Hon!” and we had NO idea what he was talking about! Then one day, walking into my parents house, my son said it JUST as my dad walked into the room, and we got it! For the last 5 years, Hon he has been.  To my 18 month old as well.

  79. LB Oct 27 at 12:38 pm Reply Reply

    I HIGHLY recommend coming up with unique names for all grandparents. When I was really little (I think I was about 5), I was confused whenever my mom said we were going to grandma’s house. “Which grandma?” I would ask, “fat grandma or skinny grandma”. I remember having this conversation in the car MANY times. My mom eventually started calling them “Grandma Smith” and “Grandma Jones” because she was concerned that we’d call our overweight grandmother “Fat Grandma” to her face.

  80. LibraryChristi Oct 27 at 1:08 pm Reply Reply

    Another answer along the same theme…

    Like Amy, I have a family made up of blending and halfs and steps (I’m the youngest with four “half” sisters who I just call my sisters). I also grew up with a step-grandfather and *never* really considered the step- part of it.

    My dad’s father died when my dad was an adult and my grandmother re-married the DAY before my parents got married (which, by the way, was the second marriage for both my parents). My grandmother was Grandma May to the nine kids who preceded me, so that’s what I called her, too. When I was tiny I started calling her husband “Grandpa Pay”. His name was Wade and I’m pretty sure that’s what everyone else called him. But, to me, he was always my grandfather and I assigned him a name that reflected that.

    So, yeah. Your son will probably always feel that your husband’s step-mother is a grandma.

  81. Kelsi Oct 27 at 3:49 pm Reply Reply

    Right, well…

    My biological mother, and her parents, died when I was very, very young. My stepmother has been called “mom” since I was 5, so that’s obviously a bit different.

    BUT. Stepmother’s parents were ALSO divorced, and her mother was remarried. She was… at least a teenager, I’d say, when her mom remarried. So I’ve got dual-layer step-grandparenting going on here. I always called my father’s parents “Grandma and Grandpa [surname],” and my stepmom’s parents and stepfather were all “Grandma and Grandpa [respective first names].” I think the whole point of this was to not confuse me horribly as to why Grandma S and Grandpa T and Grandpa A all had different surnames and why were there three of them when there were only two in daddy’s family and and and what’s a divorce? Regardless, they were all always my grandparents, as were my biological mom’s parents when they were referred to.

    Now, by contrast, my husband’s dad has two (considerably older) children from a previous marriage. I’m not sure how my brother-in-law’s children refer to my mother in law, but I know my sister-in-law refers to them as “Grandpa and [MIL first name]” to her kids, who are around 2 and 4.

  82. anon Oct 27 at 6:10 pm Reply Reply

    don’t ask why- my name for my grandad is ‘Oko’! it was what i could pick up from the name my grandmum called him.
    and it’s lovely to have a grandparent with a made up name, something no one you know calls their grandparent. makes it more special. so am all for the made up name option!

  83. -k- Oct 27 at 6:55 pm Reply Reply

    Oh, I wish I weren’t so late to the party.

    My dad’s third and current wife is essentially my age. I still haven’t figured out what to do with that one.

    We’ll probably just roll with ‘Grandma’, weird as that is.

  84. kelleyd Oct 28 at 7:59 am Reply Reply

    Wishing I wan’t late to the party either. I had a step-grandmother as well. My grandmother died when I was very young. My grandfather remarried several years later. He was always Grandad and she was always addressed by her firsst name. I think all my cousins did this as well. It was kind of a different dynamic though since she also had grandchildren from her first husband so it is not like she was “missing out”
    I think one way to resolve it would be for the husband’s mother to have a special name {grammie, nanny, nana, mimi etc} while the step has the more forma; grandma or even grandmother. But in the end, it really is going to end up being the kiddo that picks it. My older brother and I called one of our grandfathers Grandpa and my younger brother called him pop pop.

  85. AE Oct 28 at 2:25 pm Reply Reply

    I am a stepmother and have declared my name hopefully well before it is needed: Yaya The now 22 & 19 year-old-kids were only 5 & 8 when I met them. However, they are very close to their mother. She gets the title. I expect my daughter’s children to use this name as well. Yiayia is Greek (not Greek, love the food) for “grandmother” and in the Cajun (am Cajun, love the food) society it means “crazy”.

  86. BethB Oct 29 at 11:06 am Reply Reply

    Both my father and my husband’s father died in their 50s. Since we had our kiddo late, she has never known a grandfather. I’m always grateful that my spouse’s step dad is around to be that role for her. On the grandmother front, my stepmom and I are not speaking, for good reasons as we had a toxic relationship. My biological mother is all but a stranger and all my kiddo has is my husband’s mom, really, for a grandparent, and she is aging quickly.

    I would say your child is blessed to have MORE loving grandparents rather than less, and given that grandparents are the first usually to be lost, it’s sure nice to have more rather than none.

  87. The gold digger Oct 30 at 4:26 pm Reply Reply

    I am a step-step grandmother. (That sounds so odd.) My husband’s first marriage was to a woman with two daughters. My husband is still very close to his (ex?) stepdaughters and I think they are delightful. One of them just had her first baby. We were thrilled to go to California to see the baby and are happy to be part of his life, no matter what he might call us. We will never have our own children, so have to depend on grandchildren of some sort.

  88. Kelly Oct 30 at 5:00 pm Reply Reply

    I have to say, the more Grandparents a child has, the better. My mom’s parents divorced and both remarried when my mom was a teenager, long before I came along. I grew up with 3 sets of Grandparents and it was wonderful. As a matter of fact, the grandpa I was closest to, and spent the most time with, was actually my step grandpa. But I never thought of him that way. While I understand the husband’s feelings, his son’s relationship with his dad’s new wife shouldn’t be the same as his.

  89. Erica Oct 31 at 9:10 pm Reply Reply

    And then … there’s the question of what the kids will do …
    My Mom’s best friend’s husband was christened “Gah” by his first grandson and that’s what stuck. Gah.
    He heeee!
    My Mom is “Jojo” and my Dad “Pappy” because that’s what my sister’s eldest son called them.
    Best of all, though, my very white, blonde, blue-eyed Aunt Kathy is known by her biracial step grandchildren as “Grandma Chocolate” because she’s the grandma who always gives them chocolate. She also is the one who lives farthest away, and in the tradition of all great grandmas, she wanted to do SOMETHING that would make her stand out from the more local, African grandma from their Daddy’s side of the family, so, Grandma Chocolate she is! In a sense, we parents can only try to plan this all out. On the other hand? We need to keep in mind that the Grandparents and grand children are ultimately in collusion AGAINST us, snickering at us behind our backs as they sneak each other forbidden treats and stretch the bounds of adoration into all kinds of lovely, unplotted places. Trust your child. He or she will take care of this in beautiful fashion if you just give it time.

  90. S Nov 01 at 1:17 pm Reply Reply

    If your husband’s mother wants to be called “Grandma,” then it’s perfectly reasonable to explain this to your husband’s father and his wife, and you all should find another affectionate/grandma-y name for his father’s wife. You could even let the stepmom pick the alternative name, if at all possible, and go into the thing with the hopes and expectations that she will have a real, grandma-type relationship with your son, even if she didn’t with your husband. I think the fact that she wants to be “grandma” is a great sign that she’s ready to love the little guy!

  91. Heidi Nov 01 at 7:39 pm Reply Reply

    My grandpa married my grandma well after my mother had moved out of the house. She refused to call him Daddy and resented his attempts to “raise her,” but she did not stop me from calling him Grandpa and I am grateful. He really WAS my grandpa. The man whose genes I actually bear also bears little resemblance to anything that could be called a “grandpa.” I personally am so glad my mother did not let her own discomfort stand in the way of me having a “real grandpa”

  92. Lea Nov 02 at 7:14 am Reply Reply

    I have two half-brothers from my mother’s first marriage (we grew up ignoring the “half’ part as well and just went with “brother” and “sister” descriptors). They are 10 and 12 years older than me, and they remember our maternal grandfather. He died years before I was born, though, and my grandmother remarried prior to my birth. My brothers called their new step grandfather by his first name, since they had known their blood grandfather. However, since I knew him only as the dude married to my grandma, and, therefore, in a grandfatherly role, I always called him “granddaddy”. Everybody else in my family called him “Carlton”, I called him “granddaddy”…and it was never weird. We never questioned it or wondered why. He was 100% my grandfather and it felt completely appropriate to call him that though my mother had no intention of calling him her father. It worked out just fine!

  93. Jennifer Nov 08 at 12:26 am Reply Reply

    I think I can offer some insight. This is basically the exact same situation my mother was in. Only she was late teens when her father re-married. I have always called her step-mother ‘grandma’ because they were married when I was born. Also I’m the closest with her – so just because your husband doesn’t have a relationship with her doesn’t mean your son won’t. I can’t imagine my life without my “step-grandma”

  94. bonuela May 07 at 6:11 pm Reply Reply

    my favorite nickname is my friend’s grandmother’s. my friend could not say grandma ruth as requested, so she became oofie. even as adults, that is what we all called her.

  95. Broken and confused Sep 30 at 5:51 am Reply Reply

    This is very close to my situation – and my ‘role’ is step – grandmother. I love their child with my whole being. Because the family doesn’t talk about it openly, and it certainly isn’t my place to bring it up, I have been called many different names in the last 3 years. For the last 6 months I ended up being Grandma – but as of yesterday, I’m being referred to as my first name. My husband (who is a wonderful father) can’t seem to talk to them about this because he doesn’t want to upset anyone. Here is my current take on the situation ….. This child loves me in return. That’s what I need to keep my focus on. I don’t understand what is going on in the background – but what I will say is this: it is bad manners to treat me this way. It is bad manners to say ‘grandpa is here!’ When I am fully present and standing right beside him! It is bad manners to NOT talk about it. It’s like I’m not allowed to love him! I’ve had to get my own counselling over this – had to learn terms like ‘disengage’ – when that is not who I am, nor is it what my husband and I desire for our family. All I can say is that even though these parents are adults – disrespecting your parents spouse is not ok. Bad behaviour shouldn’t be condoned just because I am the ‘step’.

  96. Liberty Shakti Nov 23 at 4:43 am Reply Reply

    Solution: Don’t bother even being a step-grandma-or-whatever.
    My husband was pressured by his ex wife that he needs to coparent as cosy ‘original’ parents as grandma and grandpa. As it was a difficult divorce with years of acrimony, my husband is not at all interested in co-grandparents with ‘the ex’. Not at all. She was difficult to parent with after the divorce so as the same games are being played with grandchildren (‘Ooooh you should proove you love XYZ grandchild SOOO much by buying them a carload of prezzies for Christmas…. –or– I do so much for the grandchildren and you are going to match that aren’t you …). So for us as a couple we have chosen NOT to grandparent with the ex. There is such a thing as ‘parental alienation syndrome’ where the ex systematically destroys the original child-parent relationship of the non custodial parent until it is nothing. Then the ex does a ‘you should try harder, longer, deeper, more $” guilt trip on the former partner, as a parent. It doesn’t work. There is no way we would want to grandparent in this situation. Sometimes the best solution is to walk away and say: “Been there, done that. Tried hard, brought 1st batch of children up with child support and the rest of it…but next generation of grandchildren…the ex can have them and play her games alone with them.”   –Sincerely, a happy step-not-grandmother-never-will-be 2nd WIFE :)

  97. M Dec 30 at 4:34 pm Reply Reply

    I am due in a few months with my second child. My first is 9. My mom tells me she hopes her boyfriend gets to be called Grandpa and she is hoping no one is going to correct them if that happens.
    Woooaaahh!!! I had to tell her its not going to happen and this is why – I met her boyfriend when my son was 3. During that time her boyfriend (at the time they were together about a year)verbally abused my son and myself. I was going thru a divorce and had to stay with them for a period of time. My mom divorced my dad when I was 17. and she has been in and out of very dysfunctional relationships ever since and my dad never remarried. Now she has been with her boyfriend for about 7 years. He is in no way a grandpa to my son or father figure to myself. He has never had children of his own and very much a hothead that has no shame in verbally cussing out a 3 year old and has no respect for me whatsoever. This is a situtation where I had to tell my mom, Sorry, we will not be introducing the new baby to him as Grandpa – I reserve that term for my own dad and my own mom. He simply is not a grandpa in any way nor a relative to me or my children. If it was a situation where he was fatherly and grandfatherly in his personality then it might be different. Personality says a lot about a person. I’m shocked he would even want the title. He simply doesnt deserve it. I had to tell my mom that it wasnt going to happen and she was hurt by it and didnt understand my point of view. She even said that it will happen without my control! Not likely. I will make sure it doesnt happen. I will not confuse my daughter. If my mom died there would be no special trips to her boyfriends to see “grandpa __” Why this cold hearted person all of a sudden wants to be a grandpa is beyond me. I just wanted to get it out that yes divroce happens and people remarry but it doesnt mean they deserve the special title of grandpa or grandma. Its about the relationship with the actual parents of the child and if the relationship isnt there between the parents, step-parents, and possible grandparents then don’t sress over it and just call them by their name. Why force special names on people when they don’t deserve it? Just to make them feel better? Nope. Not happening here.

  98. Kate Jan 27 at 7:55 pm Reply Reply

    I have a situation I would like some help on.
    My oldest is 30. Does well for himself. I love he and his wife dearly. I had him when I was young just out of high school. I lived at that time in a small community and everyone knew his father/ family. However, they all turned their backs on me and I had to do it alone. I lived in poverty,, worked a few jobs and went to school to have a career. The said father joined the Navy (way bigger income). He came around at the coaxing of someone we both knew, and met my son when he was 10 months old. Then I never heard from him again. I got married when my son was 9. My husband was his soccer coach, they had a gocart and did races and did many things together. He got him over his fear of water. Which was from my fears of water. They have a lot in common.
    He wasn’t always perfect but he never abused him. However. this past summer my son told me he was in contact with his natural father. I did not say anything and wished him the best, I didn’t interfere even though I was worried for him being stressed over it. His real father is an alcoholic and has a temper. The thing is not his father but his wife. She consistently posts things on my daughter in laws Face Book page referring herself to being Nanny, she goes on and on as if she has first dibs on my two grandchildren. I live n the east coast and my grandchildren live in the west. If I am lucky I may see them once or twice a year. It breaks my heart to not see them as I live on my own now. Last week, she posted how she is the nanny and I sobbed. I sense jealousy from her as they never had kids. them having no kids is not my problem and please don’t anyone tell me to feel sorry for them. I didn’t live in poverty and send my kid to school with holes in his winter boots and him reaking of mildew from the pitiful apt we lived in for nothing. They have only known my son for a few months and have moved right into being his Mom, for those of you who think it is just ok to… just get over it and suck it up for everyone else’s sake. Nope. no friggin way. I earned my way here and I am not sharing Nanny with this lady. She has a name. These people have money and I never saw a cent of it,, no one helped me and I am standing my ground here. I would never stand between a child and their real mom or grandmother. It is called respect. Some people should stop being so insecure and having the need to have to push others aside for their own glory, she gets no cape, sorry. I would never have someone else’s grandchild call me Nanny. Why confuse them. Being a Nanny is special. No special terms, this is not a fairy tale, it is real life. Kids can call the step by their name. stop sugar coating things.

  99. Yaya Mar 09 at 9:08 pm Reply Reply

    I am having this same exact situation that had popped up from nowhere. I’m a step mother to two grown ups, a boy and a girl who are both married and have a boy each. One is 3 years and the other is 6 months. My step son & his wife started calling me grandma when they had their newborn son (now 6 months). And two weeks ago they came to me saying that we need to change the name, even tried to convince my stepdaughter who has a 3 year old boy to teach him not to call me Nana and to find a new name so that both will be calling me the same name. Honestly, I didn’t care at first saying that I’ll love them both no matter what they will be calling me, but now I’m wondering why all of a sudden they want this change, and why now, after three years of the older grandson calling me Nanna and them calling me grandma for 6 months now. Its really hurting my feelings now and its distrubing me a lot now, need an advice please

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