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When grandparents divorce: promoting the grandkids' best interests

In some instances, the effects of a marital split in Arkansas or elsewhere can be largely confined to the parties most immediately involved, namely, the divorcing spouses.

In other cases, though, there can be rippling consequences that extend outward to many people and that affect families across generational lines.

A recent article in the Huffington Post touches upon that latter scenario, specifically discussing a divorce between two older people who have a close relationship with grandchildren.

A central question immediately arises with such a divorce, as follows: How can the best interests of grandkids be promoted when they learn that the grandparents they love will no longer live together and when the reality they know and are comfortable with is about to change forever in a material way?

Psychologist and family therapist Marie Hartwell-Walker says that, foremost, divorcing grandparents who are close to their grandkids need to take the time to speak gently and openly with them in a reassuring manner. That means letting them know that the divorce is not their fault and that the new circumstances it brings will not undermine the loving relationship that exists across generations.

As Hartwell-Walker notes, kids see the world in a primarily self-centered way, and simply letting them know that things are going to be alright in the future might be all they need to hear.

That reassurance needs to be coupled with conduct going forward that demonstrates continuing respect for a former partner. Trashing an ex-spouse in front of grandkids who love him or her avails nobody and can yield negative consequences lasting a lifetime.

Hartwell-Walker says that a fundamentally important consideration of being a grandparent is having the ability to serve as a role model that grandkids can pattern as they grow older.

“That shouldn’t have to end with your marriage,” she notes.

Source: Huffington Post, "When grandparents divorce," Marie Hartwell-Walker, March 3, 2014

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