Many of you responded with heartfelt stories and no-nonsense comments to a writer (Jan. 20) who expressed angst over what name to assign non-biological grandparents. She and her hubby felt "uncomfortable" calling his divorced parents' mates, Grandpa or Nana.
Here is a selection:
* My divorced grandmother married "Papa T" when my mom was in grade school. He was more of a Dad to my mom and more of a Grandpa to me then my "blood" grandfather could ever have been. Papa T took me fishing, read me stories, sang songs, and even played "dollies" with me. My mom named me after Papa T, as it was a gender-neutral name, which I wear with pride. Blood lines don't matter as much as what's in the heart.
-Little T of Illinois
* The expectant parents need to grow up, quickly, before the baby is born. Sharing blood doesn't make you a parent or grandparent. Children don't recognize blood ties, but they'll realize the lack of respect held for any "imposters." To the writer: Let your children call them Grandma and Grandpa, then allow the relationships to flourish where they may.
* Children benefit from having positive relationships with several older adults, and new parents also benefit from having a wide circle of family support and backup. If Granddad’s partner is a good person, willing to commit to being a grandparent, then recognize that with the name he or she prefers. If Grandma is seeing someone new, then include Grandma's sweetie in invitations, but take your lead from Grandma about when and whether her sweetie has become a committed partner.
A Parent in Kingston
* In my family, the grandparents are called "Nanny" and "Poppy." They're the only grandparents our children have known. I didn't want to become yet another "Nanny" when one already exists. I suggested using the cultural background of both families. My husband is Irish and the Gaelic term for grandmother and grandfather are seanathair (shanahar) and sean-mhathair (shan-mahar). We combined the "nanny" part with the "shan-mahar" and I'm now called "Shanny". My husband is called "Shannpa." These are unique titles found only in our family! Create your own legacy!
- Whatever Works
* I was told to call my step-daughter’s Dad "Uncle Joe." For 12 years, we spent time together shopping, walking and just hanging out, until he died when I was 18. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish that I called him Grandpa because that's exactly who he was to me.
- A Grandchild's Regrets
* My daughter has three grandmothers and two grandfathers. We started off calling them all specific names, but she developed her own versions. At age two, she loves them all dearly and couldn't care less whether they're her biological grandparents or not.
- Winning Formula
* As you so astutely pointed out in your column response, children are wonderful at coming up with their own monikers. The maternal grandmother is Grandma Kitty (it has to do with a stuffed kitten she gave him for Christmas one year). It's too bad that the person who wrote you was so hung up on biology -- there aren't too many families left today where all members are blood relatives (including theirs!). They should get over it!
- Baby's Not Confused
* I feel sorry for the person who wrote you, if she has to question what to call the step-parents in her life, and in the life of her child. It either means that she doesn't have a loving relationship with them, and/or doesn't understand it.
- Blessed by Loving Step-Children
* One of our grandchildren was raised from the cradle to know the difference between the "real" and "not-real" grandparent. The relationship with this child was often remote. The other grandchild has never been made aware of the family dynamics; every one of us is "real" grandparents to her.
- Been There
* Instead of worrying about what to call them, she should be happy that her child will have such an abundance of love (not to mention the babysitting opportunities!). If "Confused" should worry about anything, it's the often too-short time that grandchildren have with their grandparents and remembering that, cherish every day.
- A Thought
* We're ever grateful to our children for allowing all the many grandparents to bond, and the grandchildren love to be spoiled by us all.
- Happy Grampaw
* Parents have to give their kids more credit; it's not that confusing to have two (or more) grandmas and grandpas.
- The Wise Child