When couples dissolve their relationship, there are extended family members who do not want to lose their relationships with the children. Why should children have to lose those family members they have bonded with and love? At the grandparent phase of life, you may be taking stock of where you have been, what you have done and what’s really important. Maybe you are on the last leg of your journey and more focused on the basics, being connected to others, especially your family. What could be more important than children?
Chances are you celebrated when your children found the person they wanted to share their life and start a family, providing you with grandchildren. Love at first sight and ever after! From their first cuddly days to tottering about, then talking, entertaining and adorable, always interesting. We’ve all seen many pictures of and heard stories about grandchildren by doting grandparents. As grandchildren mature, many have a special relationship, confiding in their parent’s parents, experiencing them as a safe haven when things are tense at home.
Why then, when there is a divorce, deprive children of those close relationships as their household, as they knew it, is dissolving? The security and continuity of talking with and/or seeing grandparents can be soothing and supportive as parents struggle with coming apart.
In a contentious divorce, extended family may be brought into the fray, creating two sides. Children then have to navigate between both sides of their family, perhaps hearing negative comments about one of their parents. Or, they may not even be able to see grandparents as the battle wages. When parents are engaged in divorce war, children suffer immeasurably. Their world feels turned upside down and they don’t know when it will end or what else will happen.
Grandparents need to stay out of the negativity, supporting your child by being helpful but not engaging in verbally bashing the children’s other parent. You can offer sage, neutral, advice and assure them that things will settle down and life will go on. Grandparents can serve as a safety net as children’s parents seem to be teetering on a high wire.
When there is a respectful dissolution of a relationship, or divorce, parents tend to recognize and appreciate what their own, and their spouse/partner’s, parents, can provide to them and their children. Grandparents are a valuable resource, in fact, priceless.