Dear Grandparenting: What do you say when grandchildren come crying because their separated parents are both dating around? That’s what I must deal with as the grandparent who always cleans up all the messes.
That marriage was damaged beyond repair, so I let my grandchildren move in with me because it seemed best for everyone at the time. Getting my grandchildren out of the battle zone was a no-brainer. But I can’t wrap my brain around how to handle this dating thing or how much it hurts my grandchildren.
It rips those kids apart, knowing both parents are romancing someone else. I know this because my grandchildren trust me and talk about everything. My 8-year-old grandson is taking it especially hard. He is not the same person. I am getting strung out myself. Any and all advice is needed and welcome. Arlene Drummond, Los Angeles, California
Dear Arlene: The No. 1 fear of children is parental separation/divorce. The runner-up is their parents pairing off with others. For your grandchildren, it’s their worst nightmare squared.
Ask recognized experts like M. Gary Neuman, whose divorce therapy program for children is mandated for use in family courts in different states. (Neuman authored “Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce the Sandcastle Way,” a helpful resource.)
Children commonly experience loyalty conflicts and emotional issues when caught between biological parents and new partners. One new partner is bad enough, two worse. But cycling young children through serial romantic entanglements qualifies as cruel punishment, if not terribly unusual.
Grandparents should reach out to community and professional resources to help clean up messes of this magnitude. Getting the parents to commit to family counseling programs is a giant step forward, the better to begin to embrace their responsibility to fulfill your grandchildren’s wants and needs. Keep a close eye on how your grandchildren cope, mindful of symptoms signaling the onset of emotional and behavioral problems. Get others involved and make it clear to your grandchildren they are loved every day.
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GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Lee Ann Smith, of Fishkill, New York, told grandson Liam there wasn’t enough room on her birthday cake for a candle for each year of her long life.
“How old are you now, Granny?” asked Liam.
“I’m 81, sweetheart.”
Liam looked confused. “Did you start at 1?”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.