If you are divorced, you may be wondering how to relate to your ex-in-laws – These tips may be able to help
Dealing with former in-laws following a divorce
After a divorce, there may be many loose ends to tie up. One of these is your new footing with in-laws who have become ex-in-laws. Should you shun them altogether? Blame them for your ex’s bad behavior? Or should you continue as though nothing has happened? Here are some guidelines that can help you navigate the uncharted land of broken family relations.
1. Discreetly inform your in-laws of the divorce before it happens. No one wants to be left out of the family communication loop. If you are sure your soon-to-be-ex-spouse has fairly relayed the circumstances of your broken marriage, then you need not say anything. Or if tensions are too hot to handle, give it a rest and inform them later. Otherwise, however, a quiet phone call or tactful note can break the news gently, especially if you are on good terms with them generally.
2. Maintain civil relations. An occasional outing for coffee or dinner can preserve a healthy relationship routine, if that has been your custom in the past. Holiday and birthday cards, announcements about the kids, and other kinds of casual communication should be continued if possible. Always show a respectful attitude to the in-laws, even if they do not treat you as they should.
3. Don’t speak ill of their blood relative. Refrain from blaming your spouse (their kin) since blood is thicker than water and they will be apt to doubt your word over the ex’s anyway. Some in-laws take it personally if you resort to blaming, criticizing, and name-calling, and may cut off all contact or escalate tensions to include several family members.
4. Don’t put the kids in the middle. Rather than using the kids as a weapon against your ex-spouse’s family by keeping them away or urging them to ask probing questions about the other parent, support a positive relationship with the in-laws. Encourage visits, cards, phone calls, and notes. Especially during a divorce, kids need the security of extended family. Grandparents and aunts or uncles can help to provide a link to the other parent and a legacy of their family’s heritage.
5. Inform the in-laws of future household changes. If you move, seriously date someone or become engaged, change contact information like phone numbers, or otherwise rearrange living conditions, the in-laws will appreciate your courtesy in keeping them supplied with new facts and details, which again can benefit the kids by keeping them connected to both sides of the family.
6. Don’t become a victim of propaganda or abuse. If former in-laws call to harass or blame you for the divorce, politely say you will discuss it with them another time when they are calm. Don’t place kids in volatile situations where conditions may be ripe for abuse or a lack of supervision. Be prepared to negotiate child visitation in your children’s best interests, not just what suits you or the other parent’s family.
Don’t extend the conflict with your ex-spouse to include in-laws. Maintain a civil relationship with those ex-family members who can continue to provide extended family support to your children and you.