Having grandchildren is wonderful. Many a grandparent has rejoiced in a free and easy relationship with a grandchild…and in being able to ‘give them back’ at the end of the day. But if your son or daughter is going through a divorce, the grandparent role becomes a much more demanding one—to provide a rock of stability in a confusing and rapidly changing world.
Every Divorce is Unique
Every marriage which breaks up does so in its own way, and the situation that grandparents find themselves in will have its own special circumstances.
As a result, there will be a multitude of factors that will affect how you help your grandchildren, but some general principles hold true in most circumstances.
However great the temptation, don’t disparage your ex-son/daughter-in-law in their children’s hearing. You risk further confusing their feelings. If your child is involved in legal proceedings, for instance through an online practitioner like www.divorceguru.com, then stay well clear of anything that could be construed as an attempt to influence the settlement.
Your primary role as a grandparent is to provide a listening ear. You don’t have to be a counselor, just allow children the space to talk about what they are going through. Ask questions, rather than give answers.
When your grandchildren tell you how they are really feeling, it is a precious moment. Don’t disrupt it by telling them they should not be feeling that way. If they feel it is all their fault, get them to explain why and use that as a route to discovering why they are mistaken.
Do Keep Traditions Alive
Grandparents can be the repositories of family traditions, and have a valuable role in keeping routines going when all around falls apart. Remember birthdays and festivals and do what you can to maintain the familiar events, going a little further to create good new memories that will last.
If plans and arrangements have been made, go along with them even if it is inconvenient for you, and even if you are not convinced that they are the right things to be doing. Be careful that you don’t make promises unless you have checked with their parents that you will be able to keep them.
Do Set Boundaries
It is easy to react to a child’s misery by letting them do exactly what they want, but it is better not to surround them with cotton wool. Children need to know where the boundaries are, and which rules apply in every circumstance. If there are rules that prevail at home, or rules that have always applied in your house, stick with them.
A Safe Refuge
In the storm of a divorce, grandparents can be a haven for their grandchildren. It is a hugely important role and one that can be very costly for you at the time. But if you can play a part in successfully steering them through, then you have achieved one of the great tasks of modern life.
Joanne Morrison writes about all things relating to family dynamics. Her informative articles appear online at Mommy and parenting blogs, relationship blogs and many more.