Grandparents Want to Help Grandkids after Parents' Divorce

Q: As a grandparent, is there anything I can do to help our grandchildren cope with the divorce of their parents? It has been devastating to them.

Jim: We’re sorry to learn of this difficult situation. At the same time, your desire to help your grandchildren through this tough period is encouraging. Knowing how to best help them depends on a number of factors, including their age, your proximity to them and so on. But here are some general principles that you may find helpful.

According to Dr. Archibald D. Hart, author of “Helping Children Survive Divorce” (Thomas Nelson, 1997), the impact of divorce typically varies by age. Kids aged 5 to 8 most often regress in their behavior. They also tend to feel responsibility for the divorce and may demonstrate an irrational fear of abandonment. For these reasons, many experts feel this is the most critical age for children to experience divorce, because they’re old enough to understand what’s happening but not old enough to adequately process it.

This is where you, as a grandparent, can make a positive impact. Assuming you’re able to spend one-on-one time with them, you can help them process the anger they may be feeling, as well as help them grapple with false guilt. Even if your grandkids are older and aren’t experiencing these specific problems, you can be a friend and confidante for them. Your home can be a place of refuge, an opportunity to regain a sense of “normalcy.”

For more, track down a copy of Dr. Hart’s book, or contact Focus on the Family for a free consultation with one of our licensed family counselors. May God bless you as you reach out to your grandkids!

Q: I am getting ready to marry for the second time. The man I am engaged to wants a prenuptial agreement. I want to believe this time I will be married forever and don’t understand why he wants this. What are your thoughts on prenuptials before getting married?

Dr. Greg Smalley, executive director of marriage and family formation: Much depends on your fiancé’s reasons for wanting a prenuptial agreement. We often read of celebrities who sign prenuptial agreements filled with outlandish demands and strange stipulations designed to give one partner the “upper hand” over the other.

But is it possible to believe that marriage truly is a lifelong, permanent commitment, and yet still desire a prenuptial agreement? Absolutely. There may be legitimate issues -- including inheritance or trust funds for children from a previous marriage, or protection from debts incurred prior to the marriage -- that need to be addressed. This doesn’t mean the couple is not committed for life. It is simply a prudent attempt to avoid financial and legal headaches in the future, particularly where extended family is involved.

Only you and your fiancé can know where he stands on this spectrum. He may have legitimate grounds for desiring a prenuptial agreement, or he may be dealing with issues from his past that prevent him from fully trusting you and committing to the relationship, in which case a legal document will do nothing to solve the problem.

Either way, let me urge you in the strongest terms possible to enroll in premarital counseling. This is essential for any couple considering marriage, but it’s absolutely imperative for couples in your situation who have been divorced. The prenuptial agreement is not the primary concern here. It is ensuring that you are both ready to fully commit to and trust one another. Contact Focus on the Family for a free consultation with a licensed counselor, as well as a referral to a qualified professional in your area who can help you work through these issues together.

Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.

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