When it comes to coParenting, any assistance is truly appreciated. Don’t feel guilty —say yes! It’s a win-win situation, especially for grandparents, who live for loving their grandchildren.

Divorce or separation requires everyone to adjust — including grandparents, extended family, and our closest friends. Some of your extended family may need guidance for adjusting to the new norm of “collaborating” and “cooperating” over behaviors of exclusion and open expressions of unresolved anger typical of divorce/separation in the past.

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    • Share information with your closest allies and your children’s extended family group about your hopes for respect and calm, your needs for support, and their role. Let them know how they can rally and be part of a constructive post-divorce/separation team.
    • You may find yourself having to manage conversations within earshot of your children. In spite of loved ones intention to support you by expressing anger/disappointment and their own feelings of betrayal, they may be inadvertently complicating feelings for your kids. Help others recognize that bad-mouthing, taking sides, or criticizing your former spouse is hard on children who love their other parent, someone who is very special to them.
    • Let each parent be the natural gateway to their extended family. Until and unless otherwise expressly agreed upon, allow the bloodlines to provide useful, respectful boundaries whenever there’s a question of whether you should or your spouse should contact his/her family members.
    • Lead by example, and hopefully grandparents and significant family members and friends will follow the same guidelines of respect and cordiality you value when interacting with the children and your former spouse at family or public events.

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Karen Bonnell’s book, THE CO-PARENTS’ HANDBOOK.  For more information on Karen or her book, visit http://coachmediateconsult.com/co-parents-handbook/


About Karen Bonnell

Karen has over 25 years of experience working with individuals, couples, and families facing transition, loss, stress and change. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Karen has been Board certified and licensed as an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner since 1982. She served on the faculty of University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University & Seattle Pacific University before beginning full-time private practice in 1984. She continues to be a provider of Professional Continuing Education to both health care and legal professionals.

Karen served on the Board of King County Collaborative Law and Collaborative Professionals of Washington. She is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and Academy of Professional Family Mediators.

Her work is found through Unhooked Books: https://www.unhookedmedia.com/#home.