Helping grandchildren through divorce
Divorce is painful for everyone involved, and can be particularly difficult for young children to make sense of.
Although it’s a difficult time, many families find a way to navigate divorce so both parents are happier and can support their children and provide a stable, loving environment.
As a grandparent it can be difficult to know what to do when divorce happens, but there is also huge opportunity for you to help and provide support and guidance. Here’s some things to keep in mind to help grandchildren through divorce.
Put the children first
Particularly if the cause of the divorce is something unpleasant and there is a lot of conflict between the parents, it may feel tempting to take sides. Children should always come first, and conflict second. Disagreements should take place away from the children and resist the urge to disparage either parent in their presence. Children pick up on much more than adults often realise, and even thinly veiled comments can cause real turmoil for children.
When children are going through change, it’s important to provide them with as much stability as possible, and as their grandparent you may be in the position to help with that. If you have regular days with the grandchildren, try and negotiate with their parents that these days remain as they always were, even if the children are moving house or will be living between the homes of both parents. On weekends or during school holidays you may be able to take charge of the grandchildren for a few days, providing a calm and stable household for them while other changes are taking place.
Stay connected with your adult child
Providing a listening ear to your adult child is one of the most valuable things you can do while they are going through the pain, stress and grief of separation. You don’t need to have all the answers – and in fact, your opinion may not be welcome – but being there to listen and support them can go a long way.
Stay positive about the future
When faced with the uncertainty of a family breakup, one tangible thing you can do is provide your grandchildren with hope for the future. Once the initial period of grief has passed, focus in remaining positive and helping them adjust to change and rebuild their lives. Believing your children and grandchildren are strong and that they will survive this upheaval will help them rise to this and believe it themselves. A positive outlook is more powerful than you realise, and can be contagious too. Use your opportunity to be a role model.
Do you have any tips with helping grandchildren through divorce? Share your wisdom in the comments below.
Rachel - Silversurfers Assistant Editor
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