“The expression ‘adoptive grandfather’ here refers to the relationship of a man or a woman with the children of their child’s partner, born of a previous union,” describes Benoît Schneider. , psychologist, professor emeritus of educational psychology sciences (University of Nancy 2).
Based on this definition, what would be the portrait of the “good” stepmother or the “good” stepfather?
Associated with Marie-Claude Mietkiewicz, professor of clinical psychology also at the University of Nancy 2, Benoît Schneider tried to identify characteristics that “seem to mark the paths and difficulties of expression of the functions of grandparents when they are confronted with these particular family configurations which are mixed families “.
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The authors therefore identify four main characteristics: first of all, “in order for the stepmother to recognize the child as a grandmother, she must already have an established grandmother identity”.
Secondly, “this identity must materialize in effective contacts that can find a place in the complexity of family dynamics”. In other words, relationships between grandparents in law and grandchildren must be relatively frequent.
Third: “Then this identity must be able to unfold in an accessible symbolic space”. A point that refers to other grandmothers. Are they present or absent? So, how to call the stepmother? “Very often, grandchildren in law do not call their grandparents in law”, retort Benoît Schneider and Marie-Claude Mietkiewicz, indicating a “symbolic waver”.
Finally, the fourth characteristic: “the matching of filiations by new births is not as easy as one might think”. Indeed, “it is often thought that the stepmother’s position becomes easier when the new couple has children themselves,” chain the authors.
The implication: This is not necessarily the case, particularly with reference to a potential “sensitive issue of preference”. And questioning about the nature of the bond with the new grandson compared to the one with the half-brother or half-sister … So many elements that highlight a relationship often tinged with idealization, against the background of so many uncertainties, including difficulties.
Sources: Schneider, Benoit; “The ‘grandmothers stepmothers’. Being ‘step-grandparents’ in mixed families ”, Sylvain Bouyer ed. ; “Grandparents and grandparents”, “Érès”, 2005, pp. 185-197; Schneider, Benoît and Marie-Claude Mietkiewicz, “Grandparents and mixed families. From grandmother to ‘stepmother grandmother’ “,” Dialogue “, vol. n ° 151, n ° 1, 2001, p. 61-71.