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Telling your grandchildren that you're divorcing

When people divorce in their later decades, they are likely to face an issue they hadn't anticipated -- breaking the news to their grandchildren. Even though many kids today have friends whose grandparents are divorced, when it happens in their own family, it can be highly unsettling.

Many couples may prefer to leave the task of informing the grandkids to their adult children. They may even feel that it's best if they hear the news from their own parents. However, experts say that it's best if grandparents talk to the kids themselves, preferably together as a couple and with their own kids there to show support and solidarity as a family.

When it comes to do's and don'ts for talking to grandkids about your divorce, many of the same strategies that are recommended for parents apply. For example, it's important to reassure grandkids that your love for them isn't changing. Even if one or both of you is moving, you'll still be able to do some of your favorite activities together, like take the boat out or go on a shopping spree in Boston.

If the two of you are able to amicably attend holiday gatherings and other important events like graduations together, that's all the better. However, if you aren't sure yet if you can, assuring them that at least one of you will be at these family get-togethers can be helpful.

Don't insult or belittle your spouse in front of your grandkids now or in the future. If they have questions about the reasons for the break-up, tell them only as much as you're comfortable with and avoid blaming the other person. It's probably best to get your kids and in-laws on the same page about how much and what you want your grandchildren to know.

Hearing about their grandparents' break-up can understandably make kids frightened about their own parents' future. That's where having the whole family together to break the news in a calm, planned, unhurried manner can be helpful. You should all be ready to assure the kids that their grandparents' break-up has nothing to do with their parents or with them.

If you need guidance in telling your grandchildren that you're divorcing or in navigating your relationship with them afterwards, your Massachusetts family law attorney can likely provide some resources for advice.

Source: Grandparents.com, "When Grandparents Divorce," Susan Newman, Ph.D., accessed June 14, 2017

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