When a couple with children get divorced, many people might be caught in the crossfire. This includes the children, of course, but also many additional family members -- particularly grandparents. In and after a contentious divorce, it can be tricky for now-former in-laws to communicate with one another.
In some sense, having children interact with their grandparents can be a relief for everyone involved: it provides a break for parents, lets the grandparents connect with their kin and enables the kids to return to a safe place -- one basically unchanged even though their parents' divorce may have shaken up their world in other ways.
Grandparents ought to be prepared for questions about the divorce, especially from younger children who haven't quite grasped the implications, causes or finality of the situation. It is important for grandparents who face such questions to make sure the children don't blame themselves for their parents' split.
However, it's not a grandparent's job to be a therapist. Time set aside for grandparents should be fun; constant mentions of the divorce might be unsettling for both grandparents and grandkids alike. Grandparents need an outlet for talking about the divorce as well; however, that's best left to friends or other family members -- not the kids.
People with grandkids also need to make sure they are respectful of the boundaries the divorce has set. A young grandchild might clamor for his paternal grandparents to visit him at his mother's house; however, this could bring up uncomfortable situations. A compromise might be to pick up the child and take him or her out to a playground, for instance.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Helping Grandkids Survive Divorce," March 29, 2013
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