Divorce rates are on the rise among Americans ages 55 and older. The oldest generations face challenges when they decide to end their marriages, and this often includes not only deciding how to tell their children, but how to reassure their grandchildren as well.
If you and your spouse have decided to pursue a so-called “gray divorce,” there are strategies that can help you break the news to your grandchildren without causing excessive drama.
Take the parents’ lead
Talk to your child and his or her spouse before addressing a divorce with your grandkids directly. Depending on the age of the children, they may have concerns about how and when to communicate the news. When you have adult grandchildren, you can take the lead about how to tell them about the divorce based on your existing relationship.
Present a united front
After telling your children about the divorce, consider telling the grandchildren as a group. They will have the comfort of having their parents there when they hear the possibly difficult news. Seeing you and your spouse together helps reinforce the message that your family will remain intact even though your marriage is ending. If your children prefer to tell their own children about the divorce themselves, respect that decision.
Provide a simple, age-appropriate message
Do not go into details about the end of the marriage with your grandchildren. Simply tell them that you have decided not to live together anymore, but you still love them very much and will both remain part of the family.
A pending divorce is stressful, but it also presents unique learning opportunities for multiple younger generations. The right approach can help you demonstrate the best way to handle an unfortunate, life-changing situation.