Relationships with former in-laws can be tricky – especially with your ex’s parents. However, it’s typically necessary to have some kind of relationship with them if you have kids. If they live nearby, you might need to include them in your children’s birthday parties, school events and other special occasions. They may provide occasional childcare as well – at least when your kids are with your co-parent.
If your break-up was reasonably amicable, in-laws may find no reason to blame you for it or have any other ill will toward you. If it was a contentious split, however, they may harbor resentment and believe that all the faults they always found with you were warranted.
It’s likely that you want your children to continue to have a relationship with their grandparents and other family members on your ex’s side. Grandparents can provide needed continuity and support for kids during and after divorce.
A few ways to keep things amicable with your in-laws
If you’re not especially close to your in-laws but want to find a way to have a peaceful relationship with them for the sake of your children, here are a few things that can help:
- If communication is difficult, limit it to texts and emails rather than phone calls.
- Take the initiative to invite them to events involving your kids – even if your ex already did.
- Don’t get involved in family squabbles within your ex’s family even if you’re closer to some of them than others.
Remember that they may feel hurt and resentful on behalf of their child. Give them some time and space to deal with that. You don’t have to explain yourself or your “side” to them.
In-laws shouldn’t be allowed to disparage you in front of your kids
You have every right to expect your in-laws not to say negative things about you to or in front of your kids (and your co-parent has the right to expect the same). Ultimately, the kids are the ones most hurt and confused by this. If you’re finding out that they are, your co-parent should be the one to speak with them about this. If they won’t, you may have to.
Many co-parents include a “non-disparagement” clause in their parenting plan. You can expand this to include other family members on both sides. With legal guidance, you can clearly address this problem so that your expectations are clear.