Q. My son's wife recently left him for another man, and my 16-year-old granddaughter is devastated. She's coming for a visit and I have no idea how to handle the fact that she wants nothing more to do with her mother. Any ideas?
A. Her mom didn't just walk out on her husband, she also walked out on her child. Naturally, your granddaughter feels betrayed and rejected. But even if you're furious too, don't give in to the temptation to criticize your former daughter-in-law. Instead, focus on your relationship with your granddaughter because right now you may be the only woman in her family she's able to trust. Hang out and have fun together, and as soon as possible say, "I totally understand if you don't want to talk about your mother, but when you do, I'm here and ready to listen." Then allow her to express the anger without pressuring her to move beyond resentment or to reconnect with her mom. By all means, though, tell her how sad you are that the family has been torn apart. But your priority, during her stay and afterward, is supporting her as she goes through this painful experience.
Originally published in the August 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.