Grandparents: What Role Should They Play During a Divorce?
Updated: Jan 29
1. Provide Unconditional Love & Support to Your Adult Child
A grandparent’s natural tendency is usually to care for the grandchild above all else. Under normal circumstances, this may work well, but in a divorce, a grandparent’s first priority should be to support their adult child.
If your adult child doesn’t feel supported this can affect their ability to parent well and may also affect your opportunities to spend time with their grandchildren. A divorce is the second most stressful life event that one can experience, so offering assistance and non-judgmental support to your adult child can make all the difference.
You may feel the pull to fix things for your adult child who is clearly suffering but its best to resist that urge. You have no idea how much unsolicited and unhelpful advice people receive when going through a divorce. They also don’t need to hear “I told you so”.
You may have warned them not to marry this person but they know that. They already are swimming in a pit of regret, guilt, shame and fear…please don’t add to it.
What your adult child needs is a calm, empathetic listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. They need someone to make meals for them, clean their house from time to time and help out with the children.
Think of divorce like a death and think of your adult child in mourning, what would you do to help them while they grieve?
2. Make Your House a Loving & Stress-Free Oasis for Your Grandkids
Growing up, my grandparents’ homes were my favorite places to spend time. I could do no wrong., I had their undivided attention, we did whatever I wanted to do, I went to bed late, and best of all, I didn’t have to eat any fruits or vegetables.
My grandparents provided an oasis from responsibility and stress. It was a place where I could forget about all my troubles and just have fun. Kids going through a divorce need a place like that more than anything.
It made me feel secure to know that when at my grandparents' house, I always knew what to expect. I could count on the types of snacks they would have for me, that they would make my favorite meals and they would always let me stay up late. For kids going through a divorce, going to their grandparent’s house where nothing has changed can give them a chance to rest from all the change.
You may want to talk with your grandkids about the divorce but they may want to keep your house as the one place they can forget about the divorce for awhile. If the children do bring up the divorce be sure to validate their feelings and offer reassurance that you will always be a source of love and support for them. Show compassion for their struggles but also provide a sense of optimism that it won’t always be this stressful and this difficult for them.
Your role as a grandparent should be no different during a divorce than it was pre-divorce.
Be the safe place for your kids & grandkids to land,
the voice of reason,
the calm during the storm,
and the one that makes your kids and grandkids
feel like they are the most important people in the world.
Note: The content is this publication is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.