One of the trickiest things to deal with after your divorce is dealing with your ex’s family. Depending on the degree of messiness you went through divorcing your ex, his or her family are still your kid’s grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins etc. If the divorce was somewhat amicable then this should be a fairly easy transition but if it was hostile and vindictive then dealing with an ex’s family will be quite challenging.
The one thing to remember is that although they may be your children’s family, YOU are the parent. Her are some guidelines that might help in making this as positive experience as you can for your kids.
- Find out how your children feel about spending time with the other side of the family. Make sure that this is going to be a positive experience for them and not an obligation or guilt ridden situation. Find out what they need from these relationships and set those boundaries with your in-laws. If they cannot abide by those boundaries then you will have to do what is best for your children.
- 2. Never pass on any of your negative feelings towards your ex’s family to your children. This will put them in the middle to choose and a child should not have to choose between people that they love. If they love their grandparents and want to spend time with them then you will have to make allowance for that no matter how you may feel about them. Make sure however, that if there is bad blood between you and your in-laws do not pass any negativity towards you to your children as well. Monitor the situation closely and make sure that boundaries are not crossed.
- Communicate clearly what the boundaries are with your ex’s family in dealing with your children. If they don’t know what the boundaries are, they won’t know when they have stepped over them. For instance, if your older child has a curfew at your home then that same curfew should be respected at your in-laws house to maintain consistency. If eating too much sugar send your kids bouncing off the wall when they get home then they need to respect that and not be letting them eat whatever they want because they are with grandma and grandpa. Often times, when the children’s time spent with an ex or an ex’s family is limited, one does want to use that time being the disciplinarian so they tend to bend the rules and look the other way. Kids know this and will work it to their advantage. All parties must be aware of this.
- When the boundaries are crossed you must act immediately. If you let things slide, then it will become confusing to your children. You want to handle it delicately but you must handle it.
The best way to have your children continue to have relationships with your ex’s family is to keep the channels of communication open as much as possible. This may be difficult for you if you have hard feelings towards them but you have to remember that they are your children’s family too. This is one of those times when a parent has to act in a selfless manner for the sake of their children’s happiness. If you are struggling with this, talk it over with other divorced parents and get ideas of how they have handled things. You are not the first parent to go through this, there are lots of resources out there; it’s up to you to make it work.
Read more at AboutTheChildren.org
- 4 Tips on Long Distance Parenting (aboutthechildrenblog.com)
- 9 Things to Say to Help Someone Going Through Divorce (aboutthechildrenblog.com)