Paternal Grandparents

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Staying Connected

The role of grandparents post divorce can be an important element in smoothing the transition into a new definition of family for children. While there is a wide range of involvement and roles grandparents can play, a positive relationship between grandchild and grandparent can provide support and stability that is essential for children going through divorce.

Unfortunately for families going through divorce, the relationship between child and grandparent is strongly correlated with where the child resides. This correlation is highlighted in a study published in the Journal of Divorce and Remarriage. If a child has primary residence with their father, the relationship between child and paternal grandparents is often strengthened and the relationship with the maternal grandparents is weakened. Conversely if primary placement is with the mother, the paternal grandparent-child relationship suffers —often to the point of losing contact.

Because the grandparent-grandchild relationship has the potential to be a positive beacon through difficult times, it can be imperative that the grandparents take an active role in fostering a meaningful and affirmative relationship with their grandchildren. This proactive involvement will require handling the relationship with your child, and their ex, with care as emotions run high under the stress of divorce.

As in many relationships, communication will be paramount to maintaining and improving the bond between grandparents and grandchildren. Taking the time to lay a foundation of open discussion  and mutual respect can go a long way towards securing a place in a grandchild’s life. This can be difficult territory if a strong relationship with your child’s ex didn’t exist prior to the divorce and will necessitate enlisting the help of your child —and possibly a family therapist— to bridge the communication gap with their ex.

Children reap tremendous benefits from the encouraging and loving relationships that grandparents can provide. Keeping the grandchildren at the forefront of communication and interactions is an important step in traversing the uncharted territory that divorce creates.

Every divorce and grandparent-grandchild relationship is different. If you have experience in building positive relationships with your ex in-laws or in maintaining contact with your grandkids post divorce, we would like to hear what has worked for you —leave your suggestions and anecdotes in the comments section.

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