Helping your kids maintain relationships with extended family

Helping your kids maintain relationships with extended family

On behalf of Johnson, Sclafani & Moriarty, Attorneys at Law posted in Child Custody on Thursday, November 23, 2017.

When couples with children divorce, many want their kids to maintain their relationships with their co-parent’s family. It’s often grandparents lobbying to maintain their relationships with the kids. However, it’s essential not to forget about other family members with whom your children have special bonds — such as uncles, aunts and cousins.

If these extended family members live thousands of miles away and your kids rarely saw them before, this probably won’t be an issue. However, many kids are very close to their cousins. They may also have an aunt or uncle whom they love and have counted on to be there for important milestones in their lives, as well as events like recitals, games and spelling bees. It’s essential that parents not let their kids lose these important relationships.

Both parents can help their kids maintain those relationships. However, this may require some flexibility on both parents’ part. If your nephew on your spouse’s side is having a birthday party on “your” weekend, let your kids attend. If your former sister-in-law is getting married, let your children be there.

The more you can help your kids maintain their supportive family relationships on both sides after your divorce, the better off they will be. It’s important not to do that begrudgingly — no matter how you feel about your former in-laws. If they are a good influence in your children’s lives, put your own feelings aside.

Of course, if aunts and uncles (or anyone from your co-parent’s side of the family) are using their time with your kids to speak negatively about you or get information that they pass on to your former spouse to use against you, that’s different. Even cousins, unknowingly, can pass on things they’ve heard from their parents to your kids that can cause confusion or harm.

If that’s the case, it’s essential to talk with your co-parent and possibly rethink whether these family members should continue to be around the kids without your supervision. Ideally, the adults can all put their own feelings aside to help nurture and support the kids.

If there are serious issues with your ex’s family members being a negative influence on the relationship you have with your children or their wellbeing, it may be something to revisit in your parenting plan. Your Massachusetts family law attorney can provide guidance if that’s the case.

Source: Our Family Wizard, “Aunts, Uncles, & Cousins: What happens to them after a divorce?,” accessed Nov. 24, 2017