When divorce takes place, everyone in the family is affected. Often the impact on grandparents is overlooked amidst the turmoil involving parents and children. But the affect can be devastating for grandparents who want to help and also stay in the lives of the children they love.
Grandparents frequently ask me, “How do I help and stay close to my grandkids when we are geographically separated?” Even more challenging, how do you cope as grandparents when the consequences of divorce limits or ends physical visits with the grandkids?
You do that by maintaining and strengthening the relationship you already have using the technology available and your best communication skills with your grown child’s former spouse.
When possible, ask permission to continue the relationship with the kids when they are with the “Ex.” Let them know how much it means to you and how important it is for children to have consistency with family in their lives following a divorce. Stay impartial, don’t accuse or reprimand, be respectful. This can be a challenging relationship dance for you, but it’s certainly worth it on behalf of your grandchildren.
Seek out the help of a Divorce Coach, therapist or support group if you are having problems and need guidance in forging this new relationship dynamic.
Here are some ways you can stay in the lives of your grandchildren despite the distance between you and the divorce:
- Create a special Journal of activities that you can share with your grandkids. This might take the form of a travelogue of places you’ve explored, people you’ve visited, movies you saw and other activities you’ve participated in. You can send them souvenirs from each place as something to show and talk about on your next phone call or video visit. These may include restaurant menus, movie ticket stubs, tee shirts, colorful brochures, postcards, hats, pens, etc.
- Request the same from them. Let them send you a story about places they visited, parties they attended, school trips, weekend activities or other “adventures.”
- Send an email or text message “of the week” to the kids with a theme: such as the Staying Warm Tip of the Week, Favorite Meal or Dessert of the Week, Pet Trick of the Week, quote from a Favorite Book you’re both reading that week, Joke of the Week, etc. – just to keep in touch.
- Volunteer your time at a hospital, toy or food distribution drive or other event to help needy children in your community so you feel valued while interacting with and bringing joy to other children. Then tell the grandchildren about your activities.
- Make plans to see the same movie as your grandkids on the same day and then schedule a call to discuss the movie together and share the experience in your own way.
- Do the same with chapters of a book so you have scheduled calls planned in which you discuss the characters and share your opinions about their situations.
- Make a weekly or monthly video catching up on your life to send to the grandkids. Nothing fancy required. Have things to show on the video such as playing with your dog, new outfit you’ve bought, a new recipe you’ve tried, a new flower you’ve planted in the garden, etc.
Consistency, flexibility and unconditional love go a long way toward strengthening your bond with your grandchildren. Be there for them. Be understanding when they don’t always respond in the ways you desire or expect. Be aware of the transitions children make as they age and enter different stages of growth and interests. Take advantage of all the blessings today’s technology provides for maintaining communication – and keep your relationship with your grandkids thriving throughout their lives!
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC, is a Divorce & Parenting Coach, author and Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network. For her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting, coaching services and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues visit http://www.childcentereddivorce.com. To learn more about her internationally acclaimed book on telling kids about divorce, visit http://www.howdoitellthekids.com.
All rights reserved. © Rosalind Sedacca