From the pages of Transitions Magazine
Grandparents have the power to help parents focus and be more resilient during the divorce process. The tale of two grandparents shows how acts of kindness OR control can set the tone for how parents interact with one another.
THE TALE OF TWO GRANDPARENTS
The Tale of the Over Protective Grandmother
“I am taking my daughters side in this, no matter what.” One Grandma exclaimed. Her daughter Jodie had really gone through a lot with her husband John and it was finally time for all this nonsense to end. Grandma saw the divorce as a time to get even with John for all the things he did against her family during his marriage to Jodie. “John does not need to see the kids until court” Grandma told Jodie “It’s better for them to start to move on with their life.”
Divorce was not something that Grandma was used to. She and her husband had been married together for over three decades. No one in her family had been divorced before. Grandma thought little of John and was embarrassed that he had ever been in her family.
Grandma took her daughter to the law offices of a few attorneys she knew who were part of her congregation. Grandma provided the retainer for the lawyer and gave him instructions on how she wanted her daughter’s divorce to proceed.
John was not allowed to either call or see his children until he obtained an attorney. John found an attorney to fight for his rights.
The New Age Grandfather
“Don’t think I’m taking sides between you two.” Grandpa said. “I’m here to make sure my grandkids are going to be okay and that’s it. John, when you are coming to town to visit you’re going to stay at my house and visit the kids. It doesn’t make any sense for you to pay for a hotel when you have that child support obligation to pay.” Grandpa kept on, “Jodie if John’s over here I don’t want to hear you to arguing with one another, the kids do not hear all that.” Grandpa continued “John, why aren’t you calling your kids during the week anyway?”
The Power of a Grandparent
Grandparents set a powerful tone for parents of divorce, especially when they are young parents. Given the two tales presented, what type of Grandparent do you want to be?
Recommended Checklist for Grandparents
___ Take your grandchildren out for a night out. Help them understand your role is to listen to their needs and not judge either parent. Make sure to engage with them OUTSIDE the presence of their parents.
___ Call the other set of grandparents. Help them understand you are here to solve problems not create them. If you have pictures of your grandchildren NOW is a good time to share them.
___ Listen to both parents and try to understand where they are coming from. What are their wants and needs?
____ Show the parents ways to problem solve through their issues. Move the parents away from civil litigation, if at all possible.
____ Make sure to invite EITHER parent to sit with you during any activities that the child is involved in. See your grandchild’s face when you are all sitting down together and supporting them.
____ I am a Grandparent and I am awesome!