It's been called the "graying of divorce." Divorce among those age 50 and over has more than doubled since 1990, now affecting one in four such marriages. If you are a grandma or grandpa who is in the process of divorce, be aware that your grandchildren will probably be affected, especially if you have a close relationship with them. You can reduce the impact on their faith in love and relationships by keeping a few things in mind.
1. Unless they live with you, grandchildren may not be aware of day-to-day struggles and arguments you have been having with your spouse. The announcement of divorce may be a shock. Don't take it for granted that they will understand why you need to separate.
2. Since children are by nature self-centered, their first response is likely to be questions about how things will change for them. They will need reassurance that you will still be in their lives if you will and an explanation if you won't.
3. If you and your spouse are close to them, kids, being kids, will wonder if they are at fault. They may need you to reassure them that the relationship they have with you and your spouse has nothing to do with it. Divorce is an adult decision based on adult problems.
4. If you love your grandchildren and they love your spouse, don't do anything to damage that relationship. Children need all the love they can get. It's enough to tell the kids that you two can't get along no matter how hard you try and that the two of you have decided it's better not to live together anymore.
5. Don't ask the kids' parents to take sides. Unless your spouse is a danger to the children, don't ask your adult kids to show their loyalty to you by keeping him or her away from the grandchildren. Instead, work with them to figure out how you will each maintain your relationship with your grandkids and how you can both be included in family events.
6. Kids look to the big people as a model for how life can and should be. When a 20 or more year marriage falls apart, it makes sense that they will wonder if love can ever last. Don't generalize your situation by saying things like "all men are alike" or "you can't trust a woman." Kids do take those things in, especially when said by someone they love and respect. Comments like those may contribute to pessimism about relationships and commitment when they are old enough to find a partner.
7. Do the best you can to maintain your relationship with your grandchildren. You offer a unique and important kind of love. Unless you are actively raising your grandchildren, you have the luxury of being able to simply enjoy the kids, the time to teach them things their parents don't and to be a role model of what being older and wiser really means. That shouldn't have to end with your marriage.
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