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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Grandparenting: Through and After a Divorce

When YOUR Child Divorces---Grandparenting
When a divorce occurs, we are often aware of the impact on children, but more rarely do people consider the fact that the parents (who may be grandparents), aunts and uncles, in fact the entire family may well be impacted by the decisions made by the two individuals divorcing.  And let me add, if you are a parent of a divorcing child, and are able to keep good relations with your former daughter or son-in-law in way that does not negatively impact your relationship with your own child, God bless you…you may well play an important role in the health and well being of your family though difficult days..

One of the areas impacted by divorce has to do with the division of children’s time between parents (mentioned a few blogs back).  But that division and loss goes beyond the parent.  The limited time with the kids must also be split with the grandparents, if they are to have a chance to spend time with their grandchildren.  There are some states in which grandparents’ rights are being protected in the court proceedings, but by and large, the grandparents tend to be without voice and with little protection of their rights.  At the same time, a personal request I would make is that you help set the example for your child and grandchildren in respecting the court ordered schedule, honoring the time that even your ex-in-law is accorded in the agreement.   To illustrate taking a child away for a birthday or other holiday in such a way that it denies the other parent appropriate opportunity is a poor example to set for your grandchild. 

As a grandparent, you can have tremendous impact for your grandchildren, if you have the opportunity.  I know that it can be very difficult, and the divorce can sometimes cause strains in your relationship with grandchildren…I have seen that myself in various situations.  However, to the best of your ability, continue to grandparent as you always have…or maybe with even a bit more loving care.  For children, there is a great deal of upheaval and uncertainty in their homes and lives, as a grandparent, you can be one of the anchors that keeps them steady. 

One of the greatest things kids say about grandparents is that grandparents have more time to listen to them than mom or dad often will take.  That role of a kindly, listening ear becomes tremendously important during and after a divorce.  Children may need to confide in you their heartaches, fears, or struggles as they adapt to a changing environment.  Some of those things may be very hard to hear, because you may hear that your child, or the other parent, isn’t taking care of the child as well as they once did.  You may hear about a new person who has moved in with a parent, a person whose behavior may scare you for the morals imparted to your grandchild.  You may even need to give an extra careful listen, in case even their safety would be at risk, as sometimes happens when drugs or abuse enter the home through a new person.  There are plenty of heart wrenching stories, sadly enough.  I only hope there are enough heart tuned grandparents to go around.

Be careful not to feed hostility against a parent, or not to get overly emmeshed in helping your child parent during a difficult time.  At the same time, you may need to become an occasional advocate for your grandchild when you become aware of serious mistakes your child is neglecting while caught up in the throes of divorce.

And most of all, more than any other time in their lives, your child and your grandchildren desperately need your prayer support.  I truly believe it when the book of Hebrews tells us that the angels are ministering spirits sent by God.  More than once in the Bible angels are dispatched in answer to fervent prayers.  For the sake of your grandchildren, dispatch a few their way today.

TL:dr  When an adult child divorces, the role of the parent as grandparent to the children becomes of paramount importance.

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