They say that when you marry your spouse, you marry their family. The same often doesn’t apply when you divorce – especially when you have children. In most cases, it’s best for kids to continue to have a relationship with all their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
If your relationship with your ex-in-laws is strained or even hostile, how do you maintain a cordial enough relationship with them to be together at family events or other times it’s necessary?
Acknowledge their feelings
It’s okay to acknowledge that they’re upset or angry about the divorce. However, let them know you want an amicable relationship because of what they mean to your children
Set some boundaries
If it’s easier to let your co-parent do the bulk of the communication with their side of the family, they should. If you need to communicate with them, it may be best done through text, email or a co-parenting app if they’re included on it.
You also have a right to ask them not to disparage you in front of your children. If that seems to continue, your co-parent should be the one to address it. If they don’t, you can. Make sure your family is showing your co-parent the same respect you’re asking for.
Take the initiative to reach out with invitations to your children’s events and activities
If you’re planning a birthday party for one of your children, being the one to reach out to your ex-in-laws can go a long way to smoothing over their hurt and anger. If it helps, try to see in them whatever your kids do. Terrible in-laws can actually be loving grandparents.
Don’t take sides within your ex’s family
Maybe you’re still close with your ex’s sibling, but their mother is holding all kinds of grudges. Resist the urge to complain or engage in gossip about her even if your sister- or brother-in-law is still on “your” side. It could easily get back to them and make things worse.
These rifts with in-laws typically heal as more time passes. However, in the meantime, you may need to put a “non-disparagement” clause in your parenting plan that applies not just to the two of you as co-parents but to everyone on both sides of the family. With sound legal guidance, you can craft one that works for your family