Family reconstructed: 5 golden rules for grandparents: Today’s grandparents have nothing of yesterday’s grandparents. They are younger, more dynamic, and sometimes even active. Sometimes they have never been married, maybe divorced or even recomposed. Moreover, they are increasingly solicited, whether to keep their grandchildren, but also to share their advice, their experience. While maintaining the right distance. A delicate exercise, and even more within the reconstituted tribes. Here are five tips for grandparents to best accompany their family at this stage while staying at their right place.
Breaking a couple of their child can be a painful event for parents, especially if there are children. They must mourn for this bursting family. This can sometimes refer them to their history, their ruptures, couple, or family. “Beyond this sadness, adds Anne-Solenn Le Bihan, psychologist, and family therapist, grandparents are afraid for the future of their children, they are anxious to see their grandchildren. Besides, this separation may also mean the loss of a beloved daughter-in-law or an esteemed son-in-law. In the early days, it is not uncommon for a moment of uncertainty to arise, in which everyone struggles to position himself. A transition period during which grandparents also have a role to play, not only with their child but also with their grandchildren.
Family reconstructed: 5 golden rules for grandparents: Non-interference
When his child goes through an ordeal, and even if he becomes a responsible adult, himself a father or mother, it can be difficult not to want to intervene or help him. When his couple separates or if he tries to recompose a family, it is tempting, as parents, to want to give advice or just his opinion. In a climate that is often tense and delicate, to express ourselves, even to act, without being asked for it can be a risky initiative. The nerves are on the verge of skin, the emotions exacerbated, the patience of each strained. Moreover, the smallest disagreement can turn to family conflict. All the more so as to intrude into the life of her child, as kindly as the reasons which prompt us to do so, is not always without consequence. This may give him the impression that we do not think he is capable of coping alone, which could jeopardize his confidence in him, and thus his ability to overcome this ordeal.
If some parents break away from each other and succeed in maintaining peaceful communication, or even a positive image of each other, this is not always the case for others. When a violent conflict divides them, or when anger overwhelms them, some of them sometimes allow themselves, after the break, to criticize their former spouse violently, sometimes even in the presence of children. As grandparents and parents, it can be tempting to take sides. Nevertheless, being neutral is crucial. First of all, because it can help the adult suffering to make the difference, to realize that this demonized ex-remains, however, the father or mother of his children and that this whole link must be respected. Second, because it allows grandchildren to keep a good image of their parents. To not take sides is also to show the children that they are not obliged to choose between their dad and their mother. Finally, to remain neutral is also to know how to recall the past, and the good moments shared. It is testimony that the parent couple did exist. That these parents were loved, that their children were desired.
When a family goes through this kind of trial, the roles that each has so far tended to fade to make room for more complicity. Relationships are less vertically divided than horizontally, and grandparents, like parents, find themselves in the same plane, in an adult-to-adult relationship. This is an opportunity for them to discover themselves in a different context, to talk about men rather than between father and son, and between women rather than between mother and daughter. Often, listening, more than advice, needs these adults in need and keeping their doors open and their ears attentive is a good way to help them through this crisis. To listen is to allow the difficulties to express themselves, and thus give them a chance to resolve themselves.
It is also for the grandchildren, caught in the storm of disunity of their parents that it is necessary to be present. Sometimes destabilized by divorce, disturbed by possible recomposition, children may need, at this time and more than ever, the protective, benevolent and permanent image that grandparents can send back. Grandchildren may also be disturbed by the arrival in their lives of new grandparent (grandparent) faces. A delicate moment where everyone has to find, even invent, his place while respecting that of others. To be present and invested with her grandchildren is to enable them to establish stable relationships on both sides, without fear of losing the love of some to the benefit of a new relationship with others.
To support her child in the recomposition of a family is also to welcome in her life her new companion, or her new friend, sometimes accompanied also by her children. Moreover, this, without being able to be confident that it will last. Take the risk of attaching to those children who may someday go away as they came. “It is a difficult situation,” admits Anne-Solenn Le Bihan, “but these new grandparents have a vested interest in seeing this happen. Their relationships with these great grandchildren may have a lot to do with their child, and may even be considered a validation of their new couple. “