The statistic I’ve seen most of today is that ‘1 in 5 children from a broken home lost touch with a parent forever‘.
There are many reasons for this and I don’t want to get into the whys and hows as I believe that every case, every family, every situation and every child is different and has a right to do what is best for them.
So although you may be tempted to intervene, or to question a decision, you can bet that you don’t know the half of it and that everyone involved is hurt, confused and needs to make their own decisions in their own time.
If you are a grandparent, looking in from the outside, it must be incredibly tempting to take one side or another. Even more tempting to get involved and try to patch things up.
I’m wondering if the estranged grandparents could play a huge part in saving some of these relationships.
Rather than arguing with the ex partner to defend your child, think smarter and keep your comments in check (let off steam later in the privacy of your own home if you need to!).
Use the benefits of the wisdom you’ve gained over the years to see that someone needs to be a bridge between the two parties and therefore a bridge directly to the children.
Even if you are told you can’t see the children anymore, send cards, send notes, remember birthdays and generally keep in touch. Be polite if you correspond with the mother (or father as the case may be) whatever went on between them and your son/daughter they are now raising your grandchildren. Every now and then offer support – babysitting for example if you live near enough – one day your offer may be taken up. Even if it isn’t, over time you will find that the relationship is built up rather than broken down.
I’m not suggesting that you should be disloyal to your son/daughter in the process. Let them know you are keeping in touch, let them know why. Rather then fanning the flames when they are incandescent with rage about their ex, try and calm the situation and encourage them to take a long term view on the situation rather than a short term one.
I really think that, wherever possible, a loving extended family is best for the children.
However, having grandparents who are nasty about their mum (or dad) is emotionally damaging – if you love your grandchildren surely you can bite your tongue. Is it worth ‘scoring a point’ if the consequence of it is that you hurt and confuse the children?
So my plea to all the grandparents out there: build a bridge, you never know when someone might decide to use it.