Family relationships are always complex, and the relationship between adult children and their parents generally do not become any less complex by nature of the aging of the children into adulthood. Sometimes, it merely makes them more complex, as the children may grow to resent the “suggestions” of parents, finding them intrusive and meddlesome.
And while grandchildren can add even more potential for irritation and conflict, the mix can become very roiled by the occurrence of divorce. As a grandparent, you may be faced with many additional complexities, as you attempt to maintain viable relations with all parties.
The difficulty for the grandparent is avoiding alienating either parent of your grandchildren. Because their decisions regarding their child custody arrangement will control how and when you have access to your grandchildren, maintaining positive relationship with both parents is important.
If your daughter-in-law receives primary custody of the child or children, your overt criticism or choosing sides will only damage your ultimate relationship with your grandchildren.
During a divorce, your presence as a grandparent can be immensely important to your grandchildren, as you should provide them with a stable and conflict-free place, where they can escape the emotional drama that their parents may be experiencing.
You should always be the “adult” in the situation, no matter how upset their parents become, and should offer non-judgmental, non-inflammatory advice or commentary to both the parents and the grandchildren.
As elders, you can help all of the parties by pointing out the necessity of dealing with the situation as it evolves and offering the long-term perspective. By remaining on civil terms with everyone, you can help your grandchildren and your own child work through the divorce.
While your legal relationship will be altered, you will always be their grandparents and you can ensure that life-long relationship remains a positive one long beyond the divorce proceedings.
The Tribune, “Grandparents should stay neutral during divorce of children,” Linda Lewis Griffith, August 26, 2014