It’s no secret that divorce can be extremely difficult. This is particularly true when children are involved.
Kids often have a hard time understanding divorce and adjusting to their new family structure. As a grandparent, you may be wondering how you can help your grandkids get through this difficult time in their lives.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for every family, there are some things you can do (and some things you should avoid) to help your grandchildren do better.
What grandparents can do to help
- Listen. The best thing you can do when your grandchildren start talking about a divorce is be a trusted confidant. Listen with an open mind and an open heart.
- Validate your grandchild’s feelings about the divorce – all feelings are real and important.
- Say nice things about both parents. It hurts kids to be made to feel like they need to have a “favorite.”
- Tell your grandchildren you love them; make them feel special.
- Remind your grandchild that the divorce is absolutely not their fault, and reassure them that things will work out in time.
- Share experiences about how you got through tough times in your life, and what you like to do now to stay calm and relax.
What grandparents should try to avoid
- Don’t speak ill of either parent when you are with your grandchildren. Even if you think they are not listening, they probably are.
- Avoid venting your feelings or frustrations on to your grandchildren. Grandparents should be a source of strength and comfort.
- Don’t force your grandkids to talk about the divorce if they don’t want to. Sometimes they just want to get away from it for a while, and it is okay for you to focus on having a fun time when you’re together.
- Don’t stop seeing your grandchildren because the divorce is hard for you. Sometimes things can be awkward if the grandchildren are living with your child’s ex-spouse. But it’s very important for your grandkids to feel supported and to maintain the same kind of relationship you had before the divorce.
As an adult, you know that everyone goes through difficult periods in their lives, but that things get better eventually. Kids don’t necessarily have that perspective. By being there for your grandkids during this hard time, you can help ensure that they’ll get through it as successfully as possible.