Divorcing your ex sometimes feels like divorcing their whole family. Now that you will be coParents you still have to have some interaction with your children’s grandparents and aunt and uncles. The same problem of intense intimacy that exists in the parent’s relationship can also exist with the extended family. Where do you go from here?

Here are the top tips in dealing with extended family after divorce:

  • Be prepared for extended family on both sides to do and say things that are hurtful to the other parent in their inept attempts to demonstrate loyalty to the blood relative. Try not to take it personally.  They are also going through emotionally-laden changes.
  • Beware of letting your personal wishes to disconnect deprive your child of their right to have a relationship with the extended family of your coParent. Every person who is connected to your child is a possible resource.
  • Don’t interfere with your child’s access to their extended family solely based on your own feelings about the family members.
  • Try to re-label extended family members in a neutral way.  It’s likely that things will quiet down over time, especially if you have reduced the intensity of your feelings about them.

Like it or not, your coParent’s family is your children’s family and unless it is harmful to your child to be around them, you have to find a middle ground where you can at least be amicable. Allow your children to form their own relationships with their relatives, they will thank you when they are older.  

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About Kathleen Bird

Kathleen Bird, JD is a mediator, parent educator, former judge, and family lawyer. Her book, Self-Centered Co-Parenting, is the result of her experience working with thousands of frustrated parents to find a self-empowering method for quality parenting and decision-making.

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