The phrase “it takes a people” has a meaning far beyond a cliché. The care, support, and attention it takes to raise and raise a child go beyond what a parent, no matter how capable, can handle alone. Both parents and their extended families are a valuable asset. During the separation and divorce process, this resource can ensure a better transition for you and your children.
Both you and your ex-spouse bring with you a group of family and friends who make an investment in your family, and divorce does not mean that this relationship has to end. In fact, this is the time when those relationships should mean the most. The disruption and change in your child’s life can be more traumatic if his contact with grandparents, uncles and aunts and cousins is drastically altered. The relationships your children have formed with their extended family are often independent of the relationship between their parents, and although the circumstances may be difficult, every effort should be made to respect these relationships.
A practical way to bring the extended families of both partners into the process is to keep the lines of communication open. It may be the case that when both parents keep the people in question informed, the dilemma of “taking sides” can be avoided. The “he said” and “she said” arguments foster so much drama and confusion and families become adversaries. Of course, it is true that grandparents and brothers and sisters can support their relative, but it must be emphasized that they can support someone but still maintain a proper and civilized relationship with their in-laws and continue their loving relationship with their children. The only real way to accomplish this is to communicate honestly and put the best interests of children at the forefront.
Also, divorcing parents should remember that their children are not pawns. Using your children as a way to punish your in-laws or withholding visitors to manipulate your ex-spouse are tactics that will only cause your children pain. When you meet with your divorce mediator, you should carefully discuss the role of your mutual extended families. There should be a solid plan for visits to protect not only your in-laws but also the safety of your children.
In deciding to divorce, you are entering stressful waters, and both families can do a lot to make this process easier. As single parents, childcare will become a real problem and if your families have helped with this, it is surely an arrangement that you will want to continue. But above all, your children’s loving and caring relationships with their grandparents and other family members are critical to the safety and well-being of your children. It can be tricky and difficult, but the payoff is really worth the effort and attention.