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Expert: Grandparents' role in divorce is to be supportive, neutral

When San Antonio parents get a divorce, the impact of that decision will be felt most powerfully by their children, but it will also likely affect friends, co-workers and grandparents.

A therapist with extensive experience as a grandparent (she's grandparent to 10 kids) says that in a divorce, the grandparents' home can be like a haven safe for the kids from the turmoil of their own home.

The therapist is author of "The Essential Grandparents' Guide to Divorce: Making a Difference in the Family."

She says sometimes those kids are caught in an emotional struggle between their parents, which is why it's so important for grandparents to remain neutral and supportive.

While the grandparents will inevitably discuss the divorce with their adult children, with their friends and other family members, they should refrain from making it the exclusive or main topic when their grandchildren are around.

The therapist urges grandparents to discuss the divorce if the grandchild brings it up, but cautions them to remain neutral and positive. Be an attentive listener and "offer your love and empathy," she says.

Take care to stress to the child that the divorce is not their fault.

But try to maintain your pre-divorce relationship with your grandkids as they go through this trying time. Give them that extra scoop of ice cream, allow them to stay up a little past bedtime, and give them the other little indulgences that grandparents love to shower on their grandkids.

It's important for children to feel continuity and support.

It's just as important for the parents going through the divorce to feel those things as well, which is why it's crucial for them to be able to lean on an experienced family law attorney as they navigate the legal and emotional processes.

Source: Huffington Post, "Helping Grandkids Survive Divorce," March 29, 2013

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