Post-divorce custody arrangements can be challenging for parents to manage, and when you start adding grandparents to the mix, it can become downright emotionally confusing as well.
While many moms who've discussed this issue on Circle of Moms feel it's important to help maintain a grandparent-grandchild relationship that was healthy and happy before the divorce, many also find themselves hesitating because of the complicated feelings involved.
Here are some tips, gathered from the Circle of Moms community, that make it easier for parents to help their children maintain ties with grandparents after a split.
1. Be Honest About Your Fears
When grandmother Sue B. learned her son and his wife were getting a divorce, she worried that her ex-daughter-in-law might not let her see her grandchildren again. While some advised her to find out about her legal rights to visitation, Circle of Moms member Joy W. provided a less aggressive tactic: talk to the children’s mother first.
"You need to talk to your daughter-in-law and explain that you did not divorce her or the children," says Joy.
It’s good advice for both sides. Some parents worry that their children’s grandparents are going to bad-mouth them to the children, while many grandparents just worry they won’t get to see their grand kids. Being honest about your worries not only clears the air, but also helps to establish boundaries for the new relationship.
2. Don’t Play the Blame Game
When a marriage breaks up, nobody really knows the whole story except for the two people involved. That doesn’t stop people from placing blame, though. Whether you’re a parent who thinks your in-laws contributed to your divorce or a grandparent who thinks your child’s ex-spouse is to blame, when it comes to grandchildren that shouldn’t matter.
Melodie had to make some hard choices about her own parents' relationship with their grandchildren because of their insistence on saying bad things about her ex in front of the kids.
"I have asked them over and over to keep their thoughts to themselves," she says. In the end, both her parents and her children lost out, as Melodie decided if her parents couldn’t watch their mouths, they couldn’t watch their grandchildren either.
3. Don’t Expect Your Ex to Facilitate a Relationship
Most moms feel that the importance of facilitating a relationship with good grandparents should trump your discomfort with having to deal with them. As Shannon R. bluntly puts it, "You can't punish the child [by not letting him see] his grandparents just because your ex is a deadbeat."
You can make it a little easier by agreeing to meet at a public place, or if you’re comfortable with it, even inviting grandparents to visit at your home. It helps to minimize the risk of you or your child running into your ex, and keeps things on familiar ground.
4. Remember, It’s About the Kids
Brandy B. is one mom who makes sure her kids still see her ex’s parents regularly, even though it’s awkward for both her and her ex. After all, she says, "it's about the kids and what's best for them."
She's one of many divorced moms who feel that continuity — in routines, relationships, and surrounding, is really important for kids, especially after their parents break up, and that if a child's pre-divorce world included their grandparents, it stills needs to.
"Grandparents have a valuable role in kids lives," points out Anne Marie M. Since grandparents are not the ones enforcing everyday rules, their role is different than a parent's — and worth supporting.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.