Former corporate lawyer turned parenting blogger KJ Dell’Antonia recently wrote a great article about parenting and divorce. Often, not just the parents are negotiating the time they will spend with their children post-divorce but the grandparents as well. So, how do you navigate the murky waters of a “grandparenting plan” on top of everything else that you are going through in your divorce?
Dell’Antonia gives some great tips about keeping your parents and your ex’s parents in the picture for your children. The first thing that must be addressed is your own relationship with the parents of your ex. If you are close with your ex’s parents, that’s great: try to continue this for your children. If you are not close or comfortable with them, however, “now would be the time to depersonalize on behalf of your children,” according to parents interviewed by Dell’Antonia. Your children will most likely pick up on any hostilities or resentment between you and your ex’s parents, which might negatively affect their relationship with their grandparents.
Open communication between you, your ex, and both sets of parents is key: communication will allow all parties the opportunity to voice their concerns and to create a time schedule, parenting plan, and/or guidelines that will benefit everyone, especially your children.
When talking about and creating a grandparenting plan, the effect on your children is the most important factor. Everyone’s circumstances (and children) will be different, so you will need to be aware of how your children feel and what arrangements will be best for them. Some children will be comfortable spending time with the whole family together after the divorce. Other children may feel uncomfortable with or confused by this, preferring one-on-one time or time with only one side of the family at once. Arrangements may also need to be modified over time as everyone changes.
Finally, another useful piece of advice that Dell’Antonia gives is to invite both sets of grandparents to events like school plays, games, graduations, etc. These sorts of events are normally attended by grandparents, anyway, and (if appropriate for your family) can be a great way to keep grandparents involved in their grandchildren’s lives: after all, that is the goal.