Hax: Divvy up love, time, gifts equally

The Washington PostSeptember 4, 2013 

Dear Carolyn: Over the years, I’ve read numerous complaints about grandparents who showed favoritism to some grandkids based on gender, adoption or step situations. Each time, I’ve been outraged that adults could be so unfair to innocent children.

But I’m finding the situation isn’t so easily resolved when it is personal. My husband and I became grandparents a year ago. We don’t have a lot of money, but we cut some corners to buy gifts on the appropriate occasions.

Now … my stepson has started dating a woman with two young children. The 26-year-old, college-dropout stepson has made having a family his No. 1 goal in life. He actually searched dating sites for women with children.

He’s now moving in with this woman, who only a month ago agreed to be publicly identified as his girlfriend. (This is only his second relationship. The first one lasted just months.)

Anyway … with the holidays coming up, I don’t know what to do. Do we spend an equal amount on these other two kids? I don’t want to be a jerk to these two little girls, but I also don’t want to keep diverting money from our granddaughter to a string of kids we might not see again.

GOOD GRANDMA

Being a good grandma is about the kids, not you. Your first paragraph says you already know this. That means any gifts you give to family members are investments in them as people, vs. investments in your relationship with them. It’s “I want the best for you” vs. “I want the best out of you” — a fine distinction, but an important one.

When you look at these two little girls that way, then you’ll see that their tenuous status in your family has no bearing on the way you divvy up the gifts. So they get a third of your gift allotment, a third of your hugs, a third of your attention, and all of your heart.

Should the parents’ relationship crash and the girls abruptly exit your lives, then you will remain the nice lady who gave them the gift of acceptance without regard for their relative value to her. Too young to grasp that is not too young to feel its light.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service