While Connecticut courts favor a parent-child relationship, grandparents can still assert their rights to obtain custody and take on the responsibility of raising their grandchildren after a parental divorce.
Per state laws, grandparents petitioning for custody must have clear and convincing evidence to show that the parents are unfit – abandoned, abused, neglected, or failed to care or provide for the child. The judge will also consider if it is within the child’s best interests to continue an established grandparent-grandchild relationship.
Once with legal custody, the challenge for grandparents is often far from over. They must still prepare and rediscover how to step into a parental role the second time around.
How to be a parent again
The unforeseen detour of raising a minor resulting from a parental divorce comes with profound difficulties. The physical, emotional and financial toll on grandparents transitioning from indirect to primary caregivers can be overwhelming.
However, grandparents can make it a rewarding experience in the following ways:
- Recognize mixed feelings: The sudden shifts in family dynamics can trigger extreme highs and lows. Acknowledge they are a natural part of the process that requires patience and compassion.
- Remove doubts: Reassure the child that they are in a safe space. Create a stable environment, where they can enjoy familiar routines and are free to express their concerns.
- Reinforce boundaries: Develop ground rules and set expectations. Doing so can emphasize how the relationship has evolved. Explain why changes are uncomfortable yet necessary.
- Respect the child’s quality time with the parents: Unless the parents pose imminent dangers to the child, comply with court orders by allowing them to visit the child or maintain contact. Their continued presence may also help the child better understand their circumstances.
The grandparent-grandchild bond is unlike any other. Thus, grandparents will always fight for their grandchild’s well-being, especially given a distressing divorce. However, they must also look out for themselves if they want to successfully live their remaining years with a renewed purpose.
Why caring for the caregiver is important
Despite well-meaning intentions, grandparents must remember that they are already in their senior years. If not addressed early on, their aging bodies and limited finances may be unable to keep up with the demands of childrearing. Solid peer and legal support systems can assist with their needs. If they receive care, they can give the same amount of care to their grandchildren.