Advice for grandparents during a divorce

Advice for grandparents during a divorceThe following article looks at how parents can help their adult children through divorce and support their grandchildren through this transitional stage of the family unit.

Although written with grandparents in mind, this section may be useful for anyone in the wider family.


Supporting the family through a divorce or separation

When your child is going through a divorce or separation, it can be hard to know how to stay involved, while giving the separating couple space to resolve their issues.

Supporting your son or daughter and keeping in touch with your grandchildren will be important to you and to them. You have a special relationship with your grandchildren that is special to them too. Be clear that you want to support your grandchildren and continue to see them.

If the split is causing problems with you seeing your grandchildren, you could ask to sit down with the separating couple to talk about how best you can support them. When talking, remember to give everyone a chance to say what they need. If you’re not able to meet up together, perhaps a short note to both parents explaining how you think you can help may be useful.

You could offer to look after the children more to give both the children and the couple some space. This may be particularly important if they cannot immediately physically separate and are continuing to live in the family home.

If you have been through a divorce or separation yourself, think about what you did well and what didn’t work too well. What did you do to ensure your children continued contact with their own grandparents? What caused the most unhappiness or conflict? This is your chance to avoid it for your own child and grandchildren.


Related Article: 13 Reasons A Divorce Is Anything But A Failure


Your relationship with your child and their ex

It is normal to feel angry towards your child’s partner and even towards your own son or daughter. It is tempting to blame their ex if you do not immediately have contact with your grandchildren. As hard as it may be, try not to blame either parent.

Blaming either parent might initially make you feel better, but it won’t help the situation. Conflict is not helpful for children, including conflict between you and their parents.

If your child’s former partner does not wish to speak to you or does not, initially, return any contact made by you, remember that they are probably struggling with their own emotions and may be wary of your views. Give them time.

If you are concerned that your child’s ex is a truly harmful presence, it is important that you seek help in regard to how you can best help your child cope and come to terms with that knowledge. They may still need to have some contact with their other parent, even indirectly, and it is important that this is handled in a way that keeps them – and you – safe and protected from further harm.

Your relationship with your grandchildren

As a grandparent you are in a unique position of being part of the situation, yet apart. You can offer your grandchildren a listening ear. If your grandchildren are spending time with you and talking to you about their feelings, be careful not to criticise either of their parents.

It is natural to want to defend your own child but remember your grandchildren have two parents whom they love. If they know you are not going to judge or criticise, they may feel more able to confide in you. If they hear you criticising either parent, they may be reluctant to speak to you in fear of ‘taking sides’.

If your grandchildren don’t want to talk about the divorce or separation, don’t force them to. You may find they appreciate not having to talk about it. Listen when they want to speak to you and let them know you are always there to listen when they need to talk.

You need to reassure your grandchildren that although things are difficult now, they will get better. They need to know that their parents love them and that will not change. They need to know that you are always available to them and will not take sides.

If there has been conflict between you and your grandchildren’s parent, try to heal the relationship. It may mean swallowing your pride and saying you are sorry for any past arguments. Although this may be hard to do, remember you are putting your grandchildren first over who’s right or wrong.

If your grandchildren don’t want to see you, don’t take it personally. They may be very upset, angry or just shocked. It may mean they don’t want to see other people, including you, for a while. Younger children may just want to be with their parents. Older children may be embarrassed and uncertain what to say to you. You could drop them a note saying that you are there for them whenever they are ready.

If the relationship between you, your child and their ex is causing difficulties, you could use an intermediary to speak to the parents on your behalf. This needs to be somebody completely neutral and diplomatic. If there isn’t a trusted family member or friend you can ask, you could try mediation.


For more articles please visit the Resolve Conflict Blog here. If you have any queries on Family Law or Mediation please don’t hesitate to contact us on 03 9620 0088 or email


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