Their marriage had always been rocky, J tells me. "Constant arguments with moments of pure rage," all of which accelerated as their sons left for college but was in full bloom when they came home. The tension was such that J and G's kids moved out of the home as soon as they could--one taking himself off to Oregon and putting down roots there. When he came to town to visit friends he stayed with his brother. "The boys didn't want to be with us," J says. "We were always at each other's throats."
All this is by way of saying that when J and G divorced last year, their adult sons, now nearing their 40s, were neither shocked nor rattled. Their granddaughter--the child of the son who had been living nearby but whose job had moved him to Colorado--was another matter. The five-year-old loved spending time with her Gammie and Grampa. Now J and G were unlikely to be coming to see her together.
This became a major concern for J, even though she had a lot of other adjustments on her plate.
How she chose to handle the issue of divorce with her grandchild--with the help of her therapist-- sounded simple and sound to me. So I thought I would share what she told me:
"My son and daughter-in-law had already talked to Evie and told her Gammie and Grampa were getting a divorce, that they were separating because they fought all the time--not arguments like mommy and daddy had but much, much worse. I thought their explanation was wonderful.
On a FaceTime call I told Evie she could ask me anything she wanted about the divorce. She wanted to know what it would be like after her grampa and I separated. I assured her that her grandfather and I were still talking to each other, that getting divorced meant grampa and I were no longer going to live together but that both of us would still spend time with her. Of course, with Covid-19 limitations on travel--I'm not ready to take an airplane anywhere--visits to her have been on FaceTime--and separately so far. We'll see if we do a zoom call for her birthday where my ex and I are online together. My son doesn't trust on that, yet.
Mostly I wanted to validate her feelings about the divorce. It was important for me to let her know she's being heard. It's important with kids to be open and honest at their level so they can feel trusted and trusting with adults as much as possible."