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Divorce: My ex-partner's family and my child

If your ex-in-laws are asking to see their grandchild and you don't want them to, take a look at your reasons and see if they make sense. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why shouldn't they see him?

  • Are there any safety concerns?

  • Do you think they'll try to turn your child against you?

  • What were relations like with them before the divorce?

  • How do they feel about you now, and you about them?

  • Are you trying to get back at your ex-partner?

After you answer these questions, and before you make any decisions, speak to your child. Try to put your own feelings aside and really listen to what she is saying. She may want to see her grandparents, or she may be confused. Does she feel she shouldn't see them because she is afraid of being disloyal to you? Does she blame your ex-partner, and by association her grandparents, for the divorce? Or maybe she blames you, and she is still very attached to your ex's family.

If your child's grandparents love him, they can provide things that you can't - a different perspective on life, the experience of years, a relationship with adults whom your child may love and who love him deeply. Avoid telling your child any bad feelings you have about your ex's family - leave your child free to have his own impressions and form his own relationships. This goes for aunts, uncles and cousins, too. Extended families are important relationships, and should be nurtured as much as possible. You have a difficult decision to make. It is important to think things through for yourself, and then discuss your preferred approach with both your child and your ex-in-laws.

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