What to do when in-laws are interfering with your relationship with your kids
Sometimes in-law relationships can be tricky, especially when you have children. In some situations, an ex’s well-intended but overly involved relatives who were an annoyance during your marriage, can become more so after divorce. However, in others, a former in-law may be crossing the line when it comes to you and your children. Here are some actions you can take if you believe your former in-laws are interfering with your relationship with your kids.
Honestly Evaluate the Situation
Family members can become fiercely protective of their own during and after divorce. It’s not unusual for an ex sibling-in-law or parent to show visible support for their child during this difficult time. However, it is unacceptable for anyone to put your children in the middle or make inappropriate statements to them about you, your ex, or the terms of the divorce. If you believe your former in-laws are making rude comments about you or the situation, carefully consider what is being said and assess whether it is hostile towards your relationship. It's important to be able to distinguish between truly harmful remarks and those which are merely irritating.
Don’t Add to the Problem
Although it can be infuriating to hear your child repeat a former in-laws' disparaging comments, do your best not to respond in the same way. Your kids have already gone through the trauma of divorce, and hearing a loved one speak ill of you is another stressor. If you respond in kind, it can add to the conflict and make them feel like they are in the middle. For example, if your kids report that your ex's mother told them you are to blame for the family breaking up, it will not help to fire back by saying that she is a meddling person who caused the divorce. Your kids are looking to you to take the high road and protect them from this hostility. If your children tell you about these kinds of remarks, it may help to say you are sorry their relative said those things and remind them that you and the other parent love them.
Talk to Your Ex if Possible
If your ex's family insists on badmouthing you to your kids or tries to convince them they want to change placement terms, it may be best to start by talking with your ex about the problem. He or she may not know this is happening, and getting assistance may help stop the behaviors. If your ex is part of the problem or refuses to confront his or her family, you may need to return to court to impose limits on who your children can have contact with during placement. In this situation, it would be best to discuss the matter with a family law attorney so that you can evaluate your options.
At First Look Family Law, attorney and mediator Karyn Youso has extensive family law experience and can help you understand your options when your ex’s in-laws are interfering with your relationship with your kids. Contact us today to take a “first look” and discuss possible solutions for your case.