Divorce is hard on everyone in the family when children are involved. For grandparents, it can feel like you're losing time with your grandkids due to split custody. This can be especially prominent during the holidays. Previous family traditions may be put aside as the parents work out a holiday schedule that is equitable for them.
As a grandparent, you still have a right to see your grandchildren this holiday season. However, it is important to assert that right in a respectful way that achieves the outcome you desire. Here are a few tips for discussing the topic with your child and former child-in-law.
1. Approach them both
It may seem easy to simply plead your case to your child. But your child needs to be able to have a cooperative relationship with their ex-spouse, and that means taking their ex's wishes into consideration and keeping them in the loop on any family plans.
When you are ready to discuss your hopes for quality time during the holidays, have the conversation with them both at the same time, just as you would have done while they were married.
2. Plan ahead
Calling the parents a week before an extended family get-together to see if your grandchildren will be there is probably not the best decision. While the big family bash might be a rich part of your family's history, there's no guarantee your grandchildren will be available or your child will remember when they make a holiday schedule with their ex.
Start planning a holiday schedule with your grandkids' parents early to make sure you have time with them.
3. Be flexible and patient
What was once a time-honored tradition may not be the way holidays are spent anymore. That can be very difficult, but understanding that will allow everyone involved to have a less stressful holiday.
If you expect to see your grandchildren one day and they are unavailable, find another day that works for everyone's schedules – even if that day isn't adjacent with the holiday itself. This may be an opportunity to spark a new tradition with your grandkids that is just as special and makes their holiday season brighter.
Divorce can make the holiday season a little more stressful, but that doesn't mean it will be impossible to see your grandchildren. Be patient, be respectful and plan ahead to have the happiest holiday season possible.