If any of your children are going through a divorce, your role as a grandparent is about to really experience some major changes. Your days of being the babysitter, having fun times in the park and late night sleepover coordinator just became much more complicated. You now have to consider all the emotions of your child, your grandchild, your child's spouse and the other grandparents. These are not easy times, but here are a few suggestions for getting through this rough patch.
The divorce is now public knowledge, and your job as grandparent should remain the same with your grandchildren. Your goal should now be to try and make those visits in your home as close to the visits were before the divorce. You want to try and give the children some normalcy, and you want to give them almost a safe haven where they can feel like things were before the divorce. Children do not understand all the complications that arise with a divorce, and many children blame themselves for the breakup of their parents. You need to reassure the kids that they are not at fault in any way. Take them out for ice cream, let them stay up late watching their favorite Disney movie, and shower them with all the love you can. Your home will become a place they can feel safe and comfortable. Use this time to grow your relationship with them.
When the time comes, and it will, when the grandchildren need to confide in you, just be careful not to try and play therapist with them. The kids will feel it is easier to ask you questions rather than ask their parents, and although this is normal, you do not want to eat up all the time you have with them trying to explain the divorce. Let them talk about it, discuss it, but then put it aside and try to continue your role as the grandparent. They can share their feelings with you, but you need to know when it is time to change the subject and focus on the future.
Your feelings are actually in line with your grandchildren during the divorce. You and the children are feeling sad, angry, upset, anxious and guilty. Never express your feelings about the divorce to your grandchildren if they have not brought up the subject. These kids are very sensitive and listen to everything at that age, and you do not want them running back to their parents telling them what grandma and grandpa said. Remember that they still love their mom and dad, and any expression of anger or sadness will be relayed to the parents as soon as they get home.
Finally you want to keep a friendly and open relationship with the ex-spouse. Courtrooms all over the country are giving fathers the right to see the kids every other weekend, and this means that your time with the grandchildren will be cut short as well. Try to maintain a relationship with the ex-spouse for the sake of the children.
Alex Kingston is a writer for divorce attorney Gerard A. Falzone, who is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Attorney Falzone invites you to visit his new blog at http://www.gfalzonelaw.com/blog for more tips, advice, and answers in the world of family law.
Photo credits: David Castillo Dominici - FreeDigitalPhotos.Net