If you’ve got an adult child who’s going through a divorce, you’re likely experiencing your fair share of emotions about it. If you have grandchildren, you’re probably concerned for their well-being. It can be difficult to know what your role should be during this time.
You may be needed more than ever to help care for your grandchildren during the day or after school. On the other hand, you may see less of them — particularly if they’ve moved away from the area with one of their parents. Either way, it’s essential to focus on their needs during whatever time you have with them.
That means remaining neutral about the divorce in front of your grandchildren. Never disparage either parent in front of their kids. If you do, you’ll likely find yourself being kept away from them. Don’t prod them for information about the divorce, either.
Use your time together to do things they enjoy or simply to allow them the opportunity to talk if they feel like it. If the divorce is high-conflict or their parents are extremely sad or angry, they’ll appreciate having a calm place to go or a day of fun and adventure where no one’s talking about the changes in their life.
Remain cordial with your child’s co-parent. Regardless of your feelings about them, they’ll continue to be in your life for a long time. You’ll likely be seeing them at your grandchildren’s events — through graduations and weddings and beyond. If you can’t remain civil, your former in-law (and perhaps even your own child) may choose to limit your time with the kids or exclude you from family celebrations.
Going forward, accept the fact that you likely won’t be able to spend every holiday and birthday with your grandchildren. They may hold separate celebrations with each of their parents. You can still make birthdays, holidays and other occasions special by creating new traditions that may involve celebrating before or after the big day. You can also be part of these big days via video chat, text and social media.
Grandparents’ rights are highly limited in California, as in most states, as long as one or both parents is around and able to care for their children. Therefore, it’s wise to maintain a positive relationship with both of their parents if you want to remain part of your grandkids’ lives.