My grandchildren's parents are getting divorced. What can I do to help them?
DARCY KIMMEL: Wow, that is something that really can break your heart, when your children go through a divorce and your grandchildren are involved in that.
You know what? It’s not the end of the world. It happens. There is hope beyond that.
But you can do some real hands-on things to help your grandchildren during this time.
TIM KIMMEL: In fact, we want to suggest four things you can do.
First of all, you need to get personal perspective on this thing. It’s not uncommon to start beating yourself up, thinking, “Where did we go wrong? How did we contribute to this? Where did we go wrong with our own child, that this would happen?” And it’s even tougher when it might be your child that was the bigger participant in the breakdown of the marriage.
DARCY: And one thing that happens is you can find a personal outlet for your pain, so that you can deal with your pain with some supportive friends, in order to help them deal with their pain.
TIM: And the second thing you want to do is preserve and protect the relationship with the grandkids.
DARCY: Yeah. That’s right. And one way you can do that is you have got to keep your feelings about their parents to yourself.
TIM: Yeah. You have got to maintain neutrality, at least when you are around them. You can talk individually to the parents, but you have got to maintain a neutrality, because regardless of who is the most responsible for this marriage breakup, the parents love their mother and father, regardless of how this came down. You have got to maintain neutrality, because if you start taking sides, then that can really wreck your ability to help those grandchildren at the heart level.
DARCY: And as a grandparent, you have the opportunity to be that steady thread that runs through their lives at this very rocky time, and you can be around to answer some of those hard questions. You know, they are going to be asking, “Does this mean I’m going to have to move? Am I going to have to go to a new school? Am I going to have to live away from a brother or a sister?”
Those can be hard questions. And as a grandparent, if you are steady, if you are a rock for them, then they can come to your for those answers.
TIM: And she’s hitting on the third thing we have got to do, and that is to help these children heal, because they are hemorrhaging inside.
We all know this is the generation of divorce. We know divorce is very devastating to kids. It has a way of touching them and putting scar tissue on them that they have to process the rest of your life.
But you know what? You can turn those things into actually sacred scars. You can help them get through this thing.
I mean, they need to know that although their immediate world is falling apart, their bigger world is still very much intact, and you are part of that bigger world.
See, when we are learning how to get perspective for ourselves, and we are helping them protect and preserve their own relationship with them, and then we’re helping them heal, that also protects our access to these kids, because you may have to talk with some attorneys about how to maintain legal contact with these kids.
DARCY: That’s right. That might be something you have to put in place.
TIM: I want to give them the fourth thing, though, and that is, you have got to keep a contact to those parents, even the one that might have been causing this divorce the most.
I think that we all know that none of us are perfect people, and both people can easily participate, but one might have really done something that devastated them. But keep a heart connection to them, no matter what. Because you never know when you have to cross that bridge again. Plus, they are always going to be part of that grandchild’s life, and they don’t want to see you as someone that they want to use as a pawn to get even with those grandkids or to get even with you. This is a tough time for a lot of families.
DARCY: It’s a tough time, but you know what? You don’t have to be grim.
DARCY: It’s a hard time, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, and you are part of that hope, especially for your grandchildren.