Divorce is not the social sin it used to be. That doesn't mean it's any less emotional or life jarring. Nor is it only the domain of the young. Older couples in Minnesota are divorcing at a rate that some experts say is even higher than younger ones. It's called gray divorce.
In some ways the phenomenon can be even more upsetting for the extended family than when young couples break up. Adult children of divorcing older parents can feel as if they've been knocked for a loop and be uncertain how to react or how much to get involved. If there are grandchildren, what's the right thing to do for them?
Experienced family law attorneys know that every divorce situation is different. Because every person is different, the dynamics of any given family are different. But experts aren't without some thoughts on best practices. Following are a few we feel are worth sharing with adult children of divorcing grandparents.
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that you should expect to feel something about the whole affair. At one moment there might be a sense of relief, especially if your parents' relationship has long been contentious. You might also find yourself grieving or worrying about them. Their divorce might even prompt you to check how your relationship with your spouse is doing and consider making some changes. The experts say such feelings are OK, but you have to remember they are yours.
And this leads to the next observation. Your parents' divorce is your parents' affair. They should each be working with an attorney to protect their individual interests. But experts say you should strive to stay out of their emotional fray. You can't fix their problems and setting boundaries allows you to show support for them both. That's good for you and for the grandchildren.
If the grandparents have good relations with the grandchildren, that is something to cherish and promote. You can do that by scheduling whatever one-on-one time is possible with each grandparent.
One other thing that may help everyone maintain a positive attitude about family in general is to focus on the good characteristics of each grandparent and strive for forgiveness. The experts suggest there's a lot to be said for practicing compassionate grace.