Divorce affects a lot of people. Of course, the two partners and spouse and children suffer the most impact, but parents and in-laws will also feel the change.
Grandparents are often not thought of at the start of the divorce process, but they can play a large role as things move forward. Here are some areas to consider if you’re the grandparent during a divorce.
Offer a Comfort Zone – Naturally, your grandchildren will be feeling hurt and confused by the process. Grandparents can offer a comfortable home where everything has stayed the same. Try to keep it that way and offer a shoulder to cry on or an open ear. It’s common for children to confide in grandparents or other relatives because they are scared to do so at home. But don’t spend all your time on that topic; be sure the child has a place to get away from the big changes occurring in his/her life.
Think Switzerland – Of course, you have your own feelings of anger, frustration, or hurt about the divorce. Maybe your son or daughter-in-law cheated on your son/daughter. But that person is still your grandchild’s parent and it’s up to you to present a neutral front. Expressing your anger or taking sides is only going to hurt your grandchild more as he/she works through feelings about both parents.
Get Over the Guilt – As a parent, you are wondering about your daughter/son’s divorce. Could you have done something to help? Should you have shared your reservations about the relationship sooner? You may even recognize some of the faults with your child and then feel guilty about that, or feel divided loyalty. As the saying goes, there is no point in crying over spilled milk. What you can do now is be a force for optimism and positive change as your family navigates toward a new way of life.
Stay in Touch – If your in-law child ends up with custody, you may fear losing touch with your grandchildren. It’s a valid fear because this does happen. Do your best to keep a strong relationship with them by setting up outings and celebrations. It’s also good to stay in touch with your in-law child, if possible. Obviously, that depends on how the relationship ended, but if you can be friendly and coordinate with that parent, it will certainly make things easier for future birthday parties and holiday gatherings.
Grandparents who are concerned about these topics are welcome to visit our Second Saturday divorce workshop to learn more about what their family is going through.
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