Grandparents play an important role in a toddler's life.
Although toddlers do not understand the complexity of emotions involved in divorce, what they do understand is that two people who they saw together are now no longer together. Because little Suzy and Bobby are still small, you are spared the difficult conversation about why Grandpa is moving away and buying a sports car or why Grandma is signing up for Match.com. You still need to address the basic issues of safety and security and re-establish those feelings in the new households of the grandparents. Take it slow and approach it with a smile on your face, and your little ones will see it all as a new, exciting adventure.
1Stay with the toddler for the first overnight visit with Grandma or Grandpa in their residence. This will help make your child feel safe in the unknown space and re-establish a sense of security with the single grandparent.
2Set up a new routine. Arrange to see the grandparents at different times, or have the grandparents exchange the children midday on a weekend. That might work out to your benefit, giving you twice as much time without your little bundle of joy and enough time to get your spa-on or take a nap! After a few weekends, the children will get used to the arrangement, and it will become the new normal.
3Provide similar toys and comfort items at each grandparent home so the children feel safe and secure at either house. Try to keep gifts from grandparents even so no grandparent is seen as better than the other.
4Clarify the rules with both grandparents. They used to keep each other in line, but now Grandma and Grandpa are on their own so ensure that they exercise common sense when they are with your little ones. Ensure that both grandparents understand your rules so Grandma doesn't give the kids cookies for dinner and Grandpa doesn’t teach your toddler to drive.
5Split up the holidays or invite all the grandparents to your house together to provide the most cohesive family experience for the children. If the divorce was amicable, a house full of people should be good enough to keep everyone on their best behavior for the festivities.
6As the child gets older and asks questions about why Grandma and Grandpa don’t live together, you can address the issue with an age-appropriate response such as, “Ask your father …”
- Plan activities to do with each grandparent on initial visits after the divorce. This will help distract both the freshly divorced grandparent and the toddler, making the visit easier for everyone.
- Don't plan overnight visits if the individual grandparent isn't comfortable with the hands-on care-giving of a toddler. As a couple, the grandparents might have been more able to care for the toddler, but separately, one of them might not be.