Being a grandparent in the midst of your adult children’s divorce can be a tricky situation. Here are some tips to help you through the transition:
1. Talk with parents to understand the rules/chores they have established. Remember that your role as a grandparent is different than being the parent. The parent is the authority for their children, the head of their care. You get to provide support and validation to the parents, but do so without expectations.
2. When parental rules vs. children’s behaviors are in question, refer back to the parent. Remember, nothing needs an immediate response, unless it is a matter of safety. Most times a response such as, “What is mom’s/dad’s rule about that,” or “Let’s see if mom can help us with that when she comes home.” Remind children that they need to follow the same rules. Children need the familiar structure of their parents’ rules in order to feel safe and secure. This includes following through with natural consequences.
3. When needed, do set firm and consistent limits. Consistent limits create a structure for a safe and predictable environment for children. Setting limits provides an opportunity for your grandchildren to develop self-control and self-responsibility. Using a calm, patient, yet firm voice, says, “The floor is not for putting play dough on. You can play with it on the tray or the plastic mat.”
4. Respect your grandchildren’s need to have a close relationship with each parent. It is important for children to feel free to have a relationship with both parents, despite the decisions the parents may have made in their relationship. You can support your grandchildren in this by encouraging their relationship with each parent, and refraining from speaking negatively about either parent.
5. Make sure you engage in a program of self care that puts your needs first. It’s hard being a grandparent in the midst of your adult children’s divorce. When you engage in regular, effective, self care you are ready to be a support to others.
Happy Grandparents Day! – Sunday, September 8, 2013
– KITM Therapist, Krys Curnutt, LCSW