Helping My Kids Deal with Their Grandparents' Divorce

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Helping My Kids Deal with Their Grandparents' Divorce
I was fine with my parents' divorce. What was hard was explaining it to my children.

My husband and I have very few hard and fast rules in our marriage. I mean, yeah, there are the basics, like thou shalt not even think for a split second about ever cheating on me, but otherwise we pretty much just try to treat each other with respect and let that dictate how things play out.

One solid rule, however, that we absolutely never ever violate, is that we do not use the “D” word. No matter how heated the argument, how annoyed the partner, how desperate the situation we’re working through, we agreed early on that divorce is simply not an option.

We don’t use it as a threat.

We don’t allow it on the table as an option.

Period.

So it isn’t ever an option. There isn’t an exit waiting for one of us to bolt through it, and we never have to wonder if the other person is going to use the escape clause, because there isn’t one. The absolute forbiddance of divorce as an option allows us to both feel secure, and it forces us to evaluate the real options for improving whatever situation we’re dealing with. It also prevents our eavesdropping children from ever wondering whether this time one of us really means it.

While I know that there are many healthy families that have divorced parents raising amazing children, I never wanted to be one of them. My own parents have been together since they were 15, and despite the quirks of their relationship, I loved the kind of stability that their longevity made me feel.

Which is why when last year they announced they were filing for an (amicable) divorce, I was stumped. I’d learned the “Never say divorce” law from them, and always imagined marriage should be the kind of hand-holiding, slightly embarrassing PDA relationship they shared.

At 30, yes, their divorce is shifting my perspective of reality, maybe to a more realistic one, but it isn’t rocking my world. My own marriage is still rock solid, and it isn’t like my parents’ split is going to turn my home life upside down. I’m okay with it, although still a bit shocked.

What was hard for me was trying to explain their divorce to my eight year old. Her grandparents have been a constant in her life; we spend holidays with them and she even has her own room and toys at their house. For them to live separately and function as individuals rather than her Grandparent Unit confused her.

She asked most of the questions that I think children ask when people they love go through a divorce, mainly why it was happening (Answer: “I don’t have a damn clue.”), what it would look like (“Where is Papa going to live?”) and how it would affect her (“Can I still go see him?”) Otherwise, though, she pretty much took the news in stride, something that relieved me to no end.

I’m having to set some uncomfortable boundaries now, though, boundaries I never expected to have to consider with my own parents. Things like not bringing casual dates around my children or bad-mouthing the other spouse to them. It’s weird, honestly.

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