The impact of divorce on the children involved is an issue that is contemplated by nearly every divorcing parent, and is also a topic of various books, blogs and articles concerning divorce. This focus is of course important. However, there is another important relationship that may be negatively impacted by divorce: the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren.
Unfortunately, a divorce may not only dissolve the relationship between the two former spouses, but it may also dissolve the relationship between the divorced spouses and their former in-laws. In fact, a divorce may leave former in-laws with negative feelings toward their child’s ex-spouse, and often those negative emotions are manifested (knowingly or unknowingly) when grandparents interact with their grandchildren. Just as it is important for ex-spouses to maintain a cordial relationship to effectively co-parents their children post-divorce, it is also important for grandparents to respect their former daughter or son in law for the benefit of their grandchildren. With this being said, if you have grandchildren of divorce, please keep the following in mind when spending time with your grandchildren:
- Your grandchildren love their parents, both of them. Thus, if you are speaking ill of your ex daughter or son-in-law in front of your grandchildren, you may be causing your grandchildren to endure emotional distress. Not only may disparaging your former daughter or son in law cause your grandchildren potential emotional harm, but failing to even acknowledge their existence or refusing to talk about them at all with your grandchildren may also be emotionally harmful. So, be mindful of how you react and what your say when discussing your former son or daughter in law.
- Remember, the relationship you foster with your grandchildren now will ultimately impact your future relationship with them. If your words or actions regarding their parents are upsetting to your grandchildren, they may eventually come to resent that. As a result, your grandchildren may avoid spending time with you as they grow up. No amount of disdain you have for your former son or daughter in law should cause you to risk a future relationship with your grandchildren.
- Finally, you don’t have to like your former daughter or son in law. But, you should be civil with them for the sake of your grandchildren. Going forward, there will be several occasions, like graduations and weddings, where interacting with them will be necessary. Maintaining a civil relationship will not only make these occasions easier for you, but also more enjoyable for your grandchildren. Be sure to keep this in mind.
Although it is important for you to enjoy your relationship with your grandchildren, you should also ensure they enjoy and value their relationship with you. This can be achieved, in part, by respecting both of their parents. If however, you find yourself in a situation where one or both parents begin to block or interfere with your relationship with your grandchildren, there are steps you can take assert your grandparent visitation rights.