Even the most mature, amicable co-parenting relationships can be challenged when other people who are part of your children’s lives are involved. You and your ex-spouse may have a healthy relationship that is focused on doing what’s best for your kids. However, former in-laws and new significant others can threaten that relationship, often unwittingly, if you aren’t prepared to deal with them.
Grandparents, aunts and uncles are a common source of conflict for co-parents. Perhaps you and your former mother-in-law never got along, for example. However, your kids love spending time with her. You have to look clearly at whether you object to that because you don’t like her or on because she’s a bad influence on the kids. A person can be a lousy in-law and a good grandparent. If, however, she’s using her time with your children to criticize you, that’s something you and your co-parent need to discuss and work to put an end to so that the kids can continue to have a relationship with her.
Things can also get complicated when you or your co-parent start dating. Typically, it’s best not to introduce kids to these new people until you know the relationship is serious. Even then, it’s best to limit that person’s “parenting” duties — like school drop-offs and pick-ups.
Once you’re ready to introduce your kids to your new boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s a good idea to introduce them to your co-parent as well. Your co-parent should also be in agreement with the role this person will be playing in your kids’ lives. This can prevent distrust and conflict later on.
All of these people, whether former in-laws or new partners, may be in your life for a long time. At the very least, you may run into them at your children’s events and around the holidays. It’s best to maintain a civil relationship with them and to address any issues you have openly and honestly with your co-parent. Remember that a child can never have too many people in their life who love and support them.
If you truly believe that it’s in your children’s best interests to limit contact with people who are part of your co-parent’s life, talk to your family law attorney. They can help you determine what kinds of changes may be possible to your parenting plan.