grandfather and grandchild

Paternal Grandparents

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The role of grandparents post-divorce can be an important element in smoothing the transition into a new definition of family for children.

There is a wide range of involvement and many roles grandparents can play. But a positive relationship between a grandchild and grandparent can provide the support and stability essential for kids going through divorce.

This bond can deteriorate or even break completely when parents divorce. Unfortunately for families in this situation, where the child lives has a major impact on their relationship with their grandparents.

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Lost Connection

A study published in the Journal of Divorce and Remarriage highlights this connection. It emphasizes the link between custody and the relationship between children and grandparents.

If a child has primary residence with their father, the relationship with the paternal grandparents is often strengthened. On the other side, the relationship with the maternal grandparents often weakens.

Conversely, if the child primarily lives with the mother, the paternal grandparent-child relationship suffers. Often to the point of losing contact.

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Staying Connected

Because the relationship has the potential to be a positive beacon through difficult times, it’s imperative that 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 is paramount to maintaining the bond between grandparents and grandchildren. Taking the time to lay a foundation of open discussion and mutual respect goes 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. It may 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, loving relationships grandparents provide. Keeping the grandchildren at the forefront of communication and interactions is an important step. It also helps in traversing the uncharted territory divorce creates.

Every divorce and grandparent-grandchild relationship is different. If you have experience building such a relationship, we’d like to hear about it. What worked for you? What tools did you find successful? Leave your suggestions and comments below.

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