Grandfamilies: The Stealth Grandpa

undercover grandpa

A Stealth Grandpa and His Grandson

Who “Counts?”

Chat with my friend Mike over fellowship hall coffee turned to his son’s recent marriage and the new family dynamics that stowed away on the train of the bride’s flowing gown, stealing their way right into the center of the family.

His wife–Lisa–has a son, Jacob, who’s nine now, so Chuck spends a lot of time doing dad stuff with the boy.

My heart’s ears pricked up. How’s that going? 

Oh, it’s going well, I suppose. Chuck loves the little guy . . . . 

I sat quietly, waiting for more of the story to emerge.

He has to be careful, though, not to–not to step on toes, my pal said. I nodded, held his gaze, waited.

It’s a little hard on Chuck because he has to follow rules that were laid down before he ever came on the scene. 

It can be a tough role, I murmured, nodding.

More than that, he doesn’t have a real role. He’s just Mom’s husband–not Jacob’s stepdad. Apparently when they divorced, Lisa and her husband agreed that Jacob would only ever have one dad and one mom. 

Mmmmm, I said.

Mike grabbed a cookie off the snack table. It’s the same thing with grandparents. The boy can’t call me grandpa and I’m not to refer to him as my grandson. It was the same kind of deal, back when they split–only four grandparents would be recognized. 

I all but bit my tongue, waiting for Mike to unfurl more of his story. He bit into the cookie, chewed it absently, looked out the window, sipped his coffee, then set the cup down. Outside the window, Sunday School kids were swarming the church’s small playground. When the silence began to stack up like a wall between us, I finally ventured a word:

That must be hard . . . .

It’s really not so tough, he said. Jacob can’t call me grandpa, but I can toss a football around with him. We can go on little hikes and stuff. I can pretty much do everything a grandpa would want to do with a child. 

Mike took off his glasses, polished them on his shirt, and captured my gaze in his. He planted his glasses on his nose and patted his chest. The love doesn’t need a name, you know. 

I nodded. Mike and I sat together a bit longer, enjoying our coffee, watching the children play outside the fellowship hall.

rabbit conga

Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.

Romans 13:10 (NLT)

rabbit conga

On Tuesdays, we’re talking about families and the joys and challenges that arise when we stretch across three (or more?) generations (child, parent, grandparent). Everyone is welcome, and I hope to hear each generation’s perspective.  Being family is by turns effortless, impossible, blessed, challenging, hurtful, joyous . . . . Let’s talk about it.

Please join us.


  1. It’s been too long since I came by, Sheila…. “The love doesn’t need a name, you know;”caring in our patched-together-by-love extended families still makes a difference, no matter what we call it.

    • I’m so glad you came by, Jody. I believe that love will pop up wherever love will pop up. And we’re called to propagate it.

Leave a Comment