Divorce is not a new concept. Unless, of course, it hits your family unexpectedly. Then it’s a dramatic change in your life–even when it’s not your divorce but your child’s.
Just this past year, we have witnessed three of our children’s marriages suffer immensely. With two that ended in divorce, and now a third marriage struggling to breathe, it puts us as grandparents in a precarious position.
We struggled with a lot of questions.
Do you take sides? What if it is your child who wants the divorce? Do you support him or her, or encourage counseling?
We have been married for forty years. No one stays married that long without struggling at times. It makes it all the harder to accept when your child gives up, and you want them to keep working on it. But it’s not our fight, or marriage. And yet, it is our family and we share the pain.
“…you have a close and loving relationship with your daughter- or son-in-law, you are facing the potential loss of that relationship. Grief is a natural reaction to these circumstances, and grandparents must allow themselves to go through the grieving process.”
We felt a deep grief when one of our daughter’s marriage fell apart. My husband and I felt as if there had been a death in the family. But in some ways, it was worse. We couldn’t really tell anyone. There was no funeral. No remembrance of happier days. Just the grief of a future lost. Along with the knowledge that life just got a lot harder for our grandchildren.
On the other extreme, one of our daughters’ marriage became violent and she needed a divorce. We felt betrayed. We had entrusted this man with our precious baby girl and he almost destroyed her. Grief and anger ruled our emotions. No to mention the desire to shelter our grandchildren from harm.
“It is very common to feel torn between your feelings for the divorcing parties, even though one is your own child. Parents know very well that their children have faults, and clear-eyed parents will recognize that their own child must bear some responsibility for the failure of the relationship. If you had developed a close relationship with your daughter- or son-in-law, you may even feel that your own child is largely at fault.
On the other hand, some parents turn all of their sorrow and anger against the daughter- or son-in-law. However you may feel that the blame should be apportioned, it is important to recognize two things. First, it is impossible to determine what really goes on between two people in a marriage. Second, it is not your role to determine blame. Try to steer your energies in more positive directions, such as spending quality time with your grandchildren.”
Steering your energies in positive directions, is by far the best idea. For us, helping to stabilize the children by being a solid constant in their lives is the best therapy for all of us.