Divorce can be hard on you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. If you have children, you can expect it to be very difficult for them, too. What some people don’t anticipate, however, is how their divorce can impact their extended family members – especially their in-laws.
If your spouse has living parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces, and nephews, you’ve probably considered these people to be part of your family. Although divorce doesn’t necessarily have to be the end of healthy relationships with your in-laws, they sometimes wither or end as a matter of course.
For better or worse, if you and your spouse have children together, the last time you saw your in-laws might not actually be the last time. This is very possible when you have children who need to build bonds with both sides of their family. Perhaps inevitably, you might need to communicate with your ex’s parent or sibling, and that can be difficult to do whether you’re in the middle of your divorce or it’s years in the past.
With that in mind, here are some tips you can use to communicate with your in-laws – especially at times when you would rather avoid it.
Focus on Keeping the Peace
Whether your relationship with your in-laws was positive or rocky before, it’s a good idea to keep the peace going forward. This means doing your best to avoid making comments that you think could upset your ex’s parents or siblings.
This can be difficult to do if you receive negative communication from them. Just keep in mind that you’re keeping the peace for your child’s sake. If you feel the need to defend yourself from certain comments and accusations, try to remind your in-laws that it’s best that they keep such thoughts to themselves. Retaliating in kind can only deepen the pain everyone is experiencing, especially you.
Establish Your Boundaries & Expectations
Especially while a divorce is ongoing and in its immediate aftermath, it can be difficult for both you and your in-laws to understand how to interact. This is a good time to discuss your boundaries and expectations with them, particularly if you know they will be providing childcare or otherwise interacting with your child. Only you know what would make you feel comfortable during this time, so try to communicate that with your in-laws to prevent future misunderstandings.
Accept That You’re an Outsider
Unless your ex’s family wants to maintain a positive relationship with you, and the sentiment is mutual, you should expect to feel like an outsider to the other half of your child’s family.
This feeling can be sharp at first, especially when it seems like someone flipped a switch that suddenly changed things. Over time, however, you might find it easier to accept that your child has another side of their family that you no longer feel a part of.
Always Put Your Child’s Needs First
You may no longer wish to interact with your in-laws, but you may have to for your child’s sake. You might have to drop them off at your ex’s parents’ house for a birthday party or pick them up to celebrate a holiday at your house.
Anytime you find yourself in a situation where you must face your in-laws, always put your child’s needs first. This requires strength and even a bit of discipline, but you might find yourself feeling much better as a parent. Your child will notice the good example you’re setting for how to engage with people with whom you may have a difficult relationship.
Do You Need Help with a Family Law Matter?
If you are dealing with a divorce that involves children, you need legal representation to help you protect the relationship you have with your child. Kay Polk, Attorney at Law can provide the legal support you need to represent your interests in important family law disputes, such as child custody and visitation.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, contact Kay Polk, Attorney at Law online now.