As parents separate or divorce, children can feel great anxiety about the changes in the family structure, but grandparents can provide much needed support, stability and love during this transition, according to Claire N. Barnes in a recent column for the Huffington Post.

Barnes’ organization, Kids’ Turn, started a seminar in 2004 to help grandparents support their grandchildren as divorce or separation looms. The organization’s goal was to simply empower grandparents to be the best support system possible.

Barnes found that several elements of the program proved particularly beneficial. First, Barnes advises grandparents to stay out of the marital dispute. In the best interests of the grandchildren, grandparents should set aside their feelings about either parent. Second, keeping predictable dates with grandchildren will help provide stability in a turbulent time. Third, grandchildren will benefit from constant reminders about how special they are to a grandparent.

“This unwavering validation can offer a child a lifeline when things are rocky,” Barnes explained.

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports that a local nonprofit agency in Texas is offering support classes and group discussions for grandparents who are taking on added responsibility in the family structure or even raising their children’s children. The support program is run monthly by the Family Guidance and Outreach Center.

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