If you're getting a divorce and your children are close to their grandparents, that's great. Especially considering how these days, not all families are as close as they were in generations past. Sometimes though, when children of divorce visit their grandparents it can be a double edged sword.
If your soon-to-be ex's parents don't like you, their attitude towards you may bother your children. As their mother or father, seeing your child distraught can be hard, especially when your child wants to feel good about loving their grandparents.
It's Natural to Take Sides
We suppose it's only natural to take sides when a son or daughter divorces. But, just as you and your spouse shouldn't be dissing each other in front of your kids, the same goes for the grandparents; this is often overlooked.
While your former mother-in-law may believe that she's only hurting you when she makes hurtful remarks about you to your kids, she is causing her grandchildren distress.
Should you take the high road?
If you are the grandparent and your son or daughter is getting a divorce and you cannot stand your former daughter or son-in-law, should you refuse to talk about them? Unfortunately, that's not the best strategy.
If you never talk about your former son or daughter-in-law, or if you change the subject when your grandchild mentions their name, it could make your grandchild feel bad.
Whatever your thoughts or feelings about your grandchildren's parents, you should speak of their good qualities to the kids. "Your mom is a great cook," or "Your father can fix anything," or "Your mother loves you very much."
If you don't like your son or daughter's ex, there's no point in making it clear to the kids – by your actions or your words – that you strongly dislike their mother or father.
Even if your former son or daughter-in-law is a terrible person, your grandkids will figure it out. In the meantime when they are with you, it's important that they don't feel like they have to choose sides.
If your words or actions cause them distress, they will resent that, or they may not want to spend so much time with you so they can avoid feeling that way.
It's best to empathize with your grandkids. If you are divorced or a child of divorce, try to remember how it made you feel and do your best to be accommodate their needs.
Need family law advice? Call Claery & Green, LLP for a free consultation.