Q&A: Helping grandchildren through their parents’ divorce

Question:

As a grandparent is there anything I can do to help our grandchildren cope with the divorce of their parents? It has been devastating to them.

Answer: We’re sorry to learn of this difficult situation. At the same time, your desire to help your grandchildren through this tough period is encouraging. Knowing how to best help them depends on a number of factors, including their age, your proximity, and so on. But here are some general principles that you may find helpful.

According to Dr. Archibald Hart, author of “Helping Children Survive Divorce,” the impact of divorce typically varies by age. Children aged 5 to 8 most often regress in their behaviour. They also tend to feel responsibility for the divorce and may demonstrate an irrational fear of abandonment. For these reasons, many authorities feel this is the most critical age for children to experience divorce, because they’re old enough to understand what’s happening but not old enough to adequately process it.

This is where you, as a grandparent, can make a positive impact. Assuming you’re able to spend one-on-one time with them, you can help them process the anger they may be feeling, as well as help them grapple with false guilt. Even if your grandchildren are older and aren’t experiencing these specific problems, you can be a friend and confidante for them. Your home can be a place of refuge, an opportunity to regain a sense of “normalcy.”

© 2018 Focus on the Family.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

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