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The Role of Grandparents

Tags: grandparents, feelings, help and support, support from grandparents, the role of grandparents
Content Types: Tips and Advice
Categories: After Separation

The role of grandparents is a precious one. All the joys of spending time with and caring for a child with few of the stresses.

Most Grandparents idolise their grandchildren and grandchildren thrive on the special relationship they have with their granny and granddad.

Before a divorce the role of a grandparent is largely to entertain, give advice, baby sit and of course to spoil. But when couples separate this role can suddenly shift dramatically and what was once taken for granted becomes fraught with complications.

Grandparents (especially those who have been very closely involved) invariably get caught in the middle.

Loyalties can become torn - between wanting to support the adult (who is still their child) through the painful periods but still wanting to keep in touch and be on good terms with their ex partner.

Worries about seeing far less of grandchildren or losing contact altogether is also all too common.

The grandparent is faced with many dilemmas:

  • Grandparents are often called on for advice and support they need to be good listeners whilst staying neutral.


  • Grandparents are expected to be there to pick up the pieces but withdraw whenever they are regarded as being too interfering.


  • Grandparents need to respect boundaries but also be there at the drop of a hat and provide a safe haven for children away from parental arguments.


  • Above all they need to provide comfort, reassurance and answers for angry and confused children whilst sometimes not knowing how best to support or understand what is going on themselves.

During a separation there is a danger that parents are so overwhelmed with their own issues and with making sure their children are okay that they overlook just how valuable role grandparents play. This is rarely intentional but is all too easy for grandparents to feel taken for granted.

So it is worth taking the time to sit down and talk to Grandparents about what they are might be thinking and feeling.

It is okay to say you need them - indeed the support of grandparents can be a crucial factor in how children cope with their parents' separation.

Try and be clear about what you expect (or would like) from each other moving forwards and encourage them to do the same.

Be as open and honest as possible - and keep in mind when a couples relationship breaks down it doesn't just affect the immediate family members it touches other family members in a number of ways.

Advice and support specifically for grandparents can be found in the resources section.

You may also like to visit How mediation can assist grandparents on the National Family Mediation website.

Follow this link for further information on tips and advice for after separation

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