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If your parent and step-parent have split up how have you worked things out with your DC/ their grandchildren?

(3 Posts)
robino Mon 03-Oct-11 10:17:50

My dad and his wife have just split up.

A brief history - dad had numerous affairs while married to my mum, his current wife was the last one, mum lost all patience, kicked him out over 20 years ago (I was 13). Dad and step mum forged a relationship but he was terrible at keeping in touch with me and my brothers, step mum was either a bit obstructive or just didn't get involved depending on who you talk to. They got married when I was 19; the day before I went to Italy dad sat me down and said "we're getting married, nobody's invited, you can't do anything about it". I know rationally that all of this is my dad's fault but my repressed 13 yr old self still feels resentful of step mum.

In the last 10 yrs I have forged a relationship with them both. To start I tolerated step mum so I could spend time with dad (not sure why I wanted to given his previous behaviour); she's not someone I would naturally have a friendly relationship with. Since I've had the DC (4.5, 3.3 and 7 months) we've had a common interest and have developed more of a relationship. She loved the DC, they loved her.

Now dad and step-mum have split up. I don't really know why but I do know it was her decision; dad just keeps saying he didn't expect it, he hasn't had an affair and it's personal.

I have to tell my DDs soon (grandad is staying with us) and I don't know what to say if they ask if they'll see her again. My DH thinks we should just cut ties as it will be too complicated to deal with. I feel bad that a) we'd have to tell them, no they can't see her and b) that we'll be stopping her seeing them without really knowing why. I know I could call her and ask her her side of the story but I'm not sure I'm strong enough for that conversation; and if I do start the dialogue and then if we decide not to see her then I'd have to have that conversation with her too.

On top of that, other than an estranged son, she has no family so on the one hand I could either take away what is technically her family or I could keep that going and risk becoming obliged to be a carer in later life for someone who I was forced into having a relationship with through circumstance.

I'm sorry for the essay, I'm just finding this monumentally hard to think through

DharmaBumpkin Mon 03-Oct-11 10:42:50

Slightly different, but similar... I am in regular communication with DH's ex-wife's estranged mother <Jeremy Kyle emoticon>. We have been to stay with her, she is coming to ours shortly. Although it was strange to begin with she is genuinely delighted to be able to be in contact with DSD1, and treats DD2 like a second grandchild. For their sakes I an very glad I made the effort... I think kids can't have too many extended family members. We get on pretty well though which makes a difference.

Personally in your shoes I would at least talk to her and see if she wants to be in contact, and if you can work out something that suits you both. I don't think there would be any obligation for later life care myself.

catsrus Mon 03-Oct-11 12:19:26

When my exH left for the OW his mother said to me "darling we'll just have to call each other friends now and not inlaws". We have a fab, continuing, relationship (probably better now than it was tbh as it is clear that it is totally by choice!)

You and your dcs have a good relationship with this woman, the law cannot regulate who likes or loves someone else.

You don't need to take sides or even "know her side of the story" in order to maintain a friendly contact with someone your dcs are very fond of. My dcs were terribly upset when a BIL and his wife split as my exH took sides and wouldn't have any family contact with the ex SIL - they said "but she's always been our aunty.."

I agree with dharma - talk to her.

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