Grandparents can be caring figures who happily spoil their grandchildren. They can also be an important resource and presence as a “second” or “third” parental type figure who is involved in the day-to-day care of the children.
However, the role of grandparents gets more complicated when the parents divorce. They likely have their opinion regarding their own child’s marital split, and sometimes they will hold the other spouse responsible. Conversely, the former in-laws may have contributed directly or indirectly to the demise of the marriage.
Whatever the circumstances, a divorced parent must now face a potentially volatile situation where they either do not want to see their ex’s parents or minimize the exposure if they feel that those grandparents are unsafe or unsuitable guardians for their grandchildren.
Navigating the holidays
Grandparent visitation is often a part of the holiday rituals, and they may complain loudly if the new parenting plan does not allow them access to their grandchildren. Typically, grandparents can request time with children, but parents with custody are under obligation unless it is a visitation detailed in the divorce agreement.
As with any parental decision, each parent needs to consider what is best for the children rather than themselves. Parents may need to remind themselves of the roles that grandparents can play:
- Grandparents can provide stability and continuity to children whose parents are divorced.
- Severing that connection can add to the emotional trauma that children feel, particularly if the divorce is recent.
- The children may become alienated from the parents if they rightly or wrongly believe that the parent barred them from seeing their grandparents.
Be the adult in the room
As long as the circumstances are safe and healthy for the children, a parent should try to maintain and encourage grandparents’ relationships with their grandchildren. Each parent can gracefully navigate these problematic situations by acting like an adult who does not show bias or hold grudges against their former in-laws.
Scheduling conflicts are unavoidable, and priorities may be different, so it is often best to detail any holiday visitation in a written parenting plan and then adjust if possible. An experienced Board-certified Family Law expert attorney in Collin County, Dallas County, Denton County, Tarrant County, Midland County, Ector County, or elsewhere throughout Texas can help draft a parenting plan that accommodates grandparent visitation or can modify the plan to formalize the arrangement.