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The Grandparent’s Guide to Divorce

83496521Observing family dynamics and becoming a part of the dynamic is one of the best feelings in the world, which is a major perk of marriage. However, when the marriage doesn’t quite work out as expected, extricating yourself from the family dynamic is one of the most painful feelings. After all, you were all one big happy family for so long, so it’s jarring when the family is expected to pick sides and quickly part ways like simple acquaintances.

What if we were to tell you there was a way to stay connected after divorce? Actually, what we really want to tell you is that staying connected after divorce is the best possible thing for any children there may be from the marriage. Everyone involved in the divorce wants what is best for the children, and what is best is remaining connected as (what some might call) an eccentric family.

Grandfathering in New Expectations

Divorce has a knack for dividing families and making their interactions stiff and awkward, but it just takes one person in the family to take command and set the tone of the post-divorce family dynamic. Who better than the grandparents, the sages of the family, to set the tone and foster togetherness?

Well, there isn’t anyone better, because grandparents are just removed enough to avoid being parental, but loving enough to always care.

Parenting is Forever, Just Do it Grandly

Grandparents, just like everyone else in the family, feel confused, wary, and helpless when they watch their children go through a divorce. But grandparents are not so helpless because their wisdom, love, and support are the greatest tools to deal with a divorce. So for all you grandparents out there, don’t remove yourself from the situation; your family needs you.

Grandparenting your adult child doesn’t have to be invasive or controlling, it should be more supportive, loving, and offering. Instead of telling your adult child, “You should …, and then …,” offer ideas or support, like “You look like you need a break/talk/etc., why don’t I …”

There is one more piece of advice we have for grandparents: don’t push away your ex-son/daughter-in-law just because they are divorcing your child. It’s one thing to excommunicate an absent in-law, but another to excommunicate an in-law who is still very much involved in your grandchildren’s lives. If your child feels betrayed by the continued relationship between you and the ex, just calmly explain it’s in support of the grandchildren’s relationships with all the involved relatives (after all, the ex has supplied a set of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins too).

Grandparenting the grandchildren should be as neutral and supportive as possible. The grandparents house should be like a safe haven from all the confusing changes and emotional trauma because the grandparents house hasn’t had to alter at all in the divorce. Continue the usual routines and rituals practiced in the days before the divorce, don’t shy away from speaking about or to both parents, and don’t approach your grandchildren like they are damaged packages you’re uncomfortable around.

As a little side note, don’t allow yourself to be caught up in the role of family spy. If your grandchild comes to you for comfort and a willing ear, don’t take those words of trust and confidence and use them to arm your child with ammo against the ex. If you are on anyone’s side, you are on the grandchildren’s.

Essentially, your role as grandparent is to be the rock, the constant in your child’s and grandchildren’s lives. So don’t let yourself get caught up in pettiness or side-taking, because the family will be looking to you to set the tone of the post-divorce family dynamic.

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2 comments on “The Grandparent’s Guide to Divorce

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