Q: Our daughter and former son-in-law were married for ten years until he left her and their two children three years ago. Although they’ve divorced, he continues a relationship with her and the children. Our daughter is insistent that he join us for New Year’s, otherwise none of them will come. Though I haven’t told her, we’d really rather he not. Should we just cave in and let him come?
A: We feel for you and the difficulty of your predicament. You didn’t spell out what’s beneath your reluctance to have your former son-in-law come along, but you’re likely wrestling with several emotions. Maybe you’re still hurt and angry over the abandonment of your daughter and grandchildren, and the way he’s treated them. Maybe you’ve never gotten along, or perhaps you have reservations about whether this kind of arrangement is unhealthy and potentially hurtful and confusing to the children.
Your feelings and concerns are understandable, and the situation is less than ideal. Still, in this case, we would encourage you to defer to your daughter’s assessment of things. She’s been charged with the responsibility for the well-being of her children – that’s her call – while you have ownership of your attitude toward her former husband.
Rather than view his joining you as you “caving in,” consider this an opportunity to extend unconditional love to your former son-in-law, to deepen your relationship with and influence on your grandchildren, and to demonstrate respect and show your daughter how much she matters to you.
Admittedly, this won’t be easy, so it’s important that you and your spouse get on the same page beforehand so that you can discuss your needs and ways you can support one another when the clan’s together. Please call our Family Support Services at 03-7954 7920 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org if we can be of help.
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