"I'm afraid of stealing the real grandmother's place..."

“I’m afraid of stealing the real grandmother’s place…”

“I’m afraid of stealing the real grandmother’s place…”

My daughter Louise has been in a relationship for a year with Cédric, who already has a little daughter. Mila, 4 years old, is very endearing. As much as Louise still has trouble being accepted by her, I have the feeling that Mila has adopted me. I heard her refer to me as her “grandmother” to her father. However, I make sure she calls me by my first name. Cédric lost his parents. As for those of his first wife, they live abroad. Isn’t Mila in danger of missing her bearings? Catherine

The point of view of Marcel Rufo, child psychiatrist

Your situation is becoming more and more widespread, Catherine: you are now a grandmother thanks to the reconstitution of your daughter’s couple. You are not Mila’s biological grandmother, but that of the new family constellation. In my practice, I observe that children most often adapt very well to these situations and willingly put a person in the position of grandmother who is not. The fact that she considers you as her own allows this child to alleviate the difficulties that the separation of her parents may represent for her. By seeking to bond with you, Mila reveals her need for intergenerational relationships. Besides the fact that it fills a void, this link offers it great support. Not to mention that the good relationship you have with Mila could well facilitate the rapprochement between her and your daughter. However, I understand your discomfort and I think you were right to be called by your first name. This way, you avoid creating confusion and erasing the biological grandmother. However, it exists and the child deserves for it to keep a place in his history. You have been prudent and well advised, Catherine.

Readers’ responses

No difference – I find myself in the same situation as you and I admit that I didn’t ask myself any questions! My husband and I welcomed our new daughter-in-law and her 3-year-old daughter with tenderness, but without overdoing it. I felt very quickly that the little one had adopted us! The following Christmas, she called us Mamylu and Papyves like our other five grandchildren. We consider her our granddaughter, just like them. Lucy

Links to invent – We recently had our only daughter’s partner’s children over for the first time and we were a little worried. Aged 12 and 8, they often see their four grandparents. We welcomed them like the grandchildren of friends. For the moment, they are not calling us. Our daughter won’t have any children, so we hope to bond with them and one day be considered true, loving grandparents. Anne

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