Separation is never an easy time for anyone. When a marriage is on the rocks, stress levels can soar and nerves can be raw. Although there is no way to make the troubles completely disappear, there are many things that grandparents can do to ease the load.
Remain Neutral around the Children
A separation can bring up many issues, and many of those issues can make you want to throw an adult tantrum at your grandchildren’s “other” parent, and occasionally even the parent who happens to be your child. Resist the urge to do this in front of your grandchildren.
Each parent is important to your grandchildren’s wellbeing and you should never make statements or take part in actions which would damage a child’s relationship with either parent. Not only that, but each parent is half of your grandchild’s identity. To belittle, insult and rage against a child’s parent feels to the child like you are belittling, insulting, and raging against the child himself. This is damaging to the child’s self-esteem.
Uphold the Law
When decisions are being made in court in regards to the best interest of your grandchildren, obey the law. For example, if the court has ruled that a certain parent may not see the children, resist the urge to break the law in order to “help” your child do what they have been told not to.
There are reasons that decisions are made, and grandparents must be sure that they are following those decisions. Otherwise you run the risk of a situation where every person is doing whatever they wish at any given moment. This is not in the best interest of the children.
When so many things are changing in the lives of your grandchildren, be a rock of stability for them. Your grandchildren may already be dealing with situations like moving homes, changing schools, and living in two homes where the rules are not consistent.
As much as possible, when your grandchildren are with you, be consistent with rules in their home or homes. This will bring them a sense of stability, as well as help their parents provide a calm, peaceful home for them with as little change as possible, considering the circumstances.
Provide a Much-Needed Break
Offer to babysit your grandchildren as much as you wish, no matter what age they are. Every parent going through a separation needs consistent breaks, and time to care for themselves. Often there are court-related things to attend to, and with only one parent in the home, there never seems to be enough time to get everything done. When stress levels are running high, children often need the break just as much as the parent. Be that retreat that all parties involved need.
Don’t Offer Unsolicited Advice
Although you may see things from a different perspective and feel you have advice worth its weight in gold, resist the urge to share it. If you are asked for advice, then by all means give it, but only if asked outright. Each person is adjusting to a new situation, and now is not the time to jump in with your personal answers. Be patient and do what you can to ease the burden, and those times to discuss will arise naturally.
When a family is in the middle of a separation, it is very difficult. As someone slightly on the outside and slightly on the inside, you as a grandparent have a unique perspective and can be a great asset. Use this opportunity to provide necessary support to your family, and you will feel peace knowing that you did what you could to help everyone get through and even thrive in this moment.