Q: My daughter is going through a divorce. What can I do as a grandparent to help our grandchildren cope with this devastating breakup?
Jim: I'm very sorry to learn of this difficult situation. But I'm also encouraged by your desire to help your grandchildren through this tough period. A number of factors play in to how you can best help them, including their ages and how close you live to them. But here are some general principles that you may find helpful.
According to Dr. Archibald Hart, author of "Helping Children Survive Divorce," the impact of divorce typically varies by age. Kids aged 5 to 8 often regress in their behavior. They also tend to feel responsibility for the divorce and may demonstrate an irrational fear of abandonment. That's why many experts feel this is the most critical age for children to experience divorce -- 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. As you're hopefully 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 provide a place of refuge and opportunity to regain a sense of normalcy.
Above all, just keep showering your daughter and grandchildren with unconditional love. You're positioned to be the steady constant in their lives as they weather these turbulent waters.
I highly recommend Dr. Hart's book mentioned above; it's available through Focus on the Family and many other sources. I'd also invite you to contact us for a free consultation with one of our counseling professionals; call 855-771-HELP (4357).
Q: I'm doing my best as a mom, but some days I just don't think I'm making any difference. I often feel completely frazzled and out of energy. What more can I do?!?
Dr. Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting & Youth: Many mothers express the same sentiments. It's important to determine what is creating the frazzled feeling. Is it the schedule, demands, chaos ... maybe your kids are struggling? Moms have these feelings for many reasons, but change starts with recognizing what you can and cannot control.
It may seem like you don't have time for the "luxury" of self-care, but it's absolutely vital for you and your family. As you care for yourself, consider these five things:
What takes life out of you? Reflect honestly about what drains you. Are there current or past issues that may be skewing your self-perception as a mom? (Important: Don't spend time comparing yourself to other moms.)
What brings life to you? Make a list of things that renew you emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually and relationally. Try to incorporate those into your life regularly.
How do you give life to those around you? Your kids love your laughter, smile and playfulness, on top of your guidance and correction. Like no one else, moms can make a house feel like a home.
What gets in the way of you being the best mom you can be? Moms can get very busy, tired and stressed. Take some time to consider what you should say "yes" to and what you need to say "no" to. Set boundaries for yourself as well as your children.
Take time to be grateful and enjoy your amazing role as a mom. Kids are loving and resilient (and forgiving). They don't need a perfect mom. They just need one who loves her role and is fully engaged in her home.
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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