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Focus: Grandparents and grandchildren following divorce

"An oasis of sameness."

That is the how one grandparent of a young grandchild whose parents divorced describes the environment that needs to be created for a youngster dealing with the challenges and newness of divorce.

Others -- counselors, therapists, family law experts and grandparents across the country -- agree, noting that grandchildren from Georgia to California and everywhere between need constancy and routine to thrive following a family split.

A number of commentators on the subject say that a few rules and a simple focus can help make things work out and cement the role of caring grandparents as fonts of love and stability following the breakup of their child and son-in-law or daughter-in-law.

Summarized in a single point, the most central piece of advice is this: Don't take sides, and keep the grandkids' best interests in mind. That roadmap will do more than anything else to keep grandchildren comfortable and prospering following a divorce, especially in the event that they have always had a relationship with their grandparents.

It is quickly acknowledged by commentators in this area that some divorces were simply acrimonious affairs, with more than a trifling of resentment and lasting anger over issues like child custody, spousal maintenance, property division and other matters.

And, thus, grandparents sometimes need to move slowly, talk softly and exercise restraint and a low-profile in the aftermath of a dissolution.

That doesn't mean backing away from the relationship they have customarily had with their grandchildren, in terms of its usual frequency, closeness and other important aspects. Maintaining that is critically important, and caring parents -- even if they have claws out vis a vis each other -- will realize that, sooner or later. Reminding them of the fact in an impartial way, stressing that continuing involvement is about the youngsters, not about taking sides, is an act of love and a grandparent's prerogative.

It is also decidedly in the best interests of the grandchildren.

Source: Huffington Post, "Helping grandkids survive divorce," March 29, 2013

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