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Family Dynamics Changing Post-divorce

Some family relationships may take a nose dive post-divorce and you may go through the grieving process for what is lost and will never be again. Take Naomi for example, she had written her step-mother regularly and sent cards for every occasion. She felt that they had a good long distance relationship. Her sons had told their step-grandmother about some abuse that they had suffered during the marriage and subsequent therapy post-divorce. The step-grandmother kept in contact with the ex, despite the boys’ wishes. Naomi wrote her step-mother saying that she and the boys would be in town for a short visit and gave two possible dates to get together. Imagine her shock when her step-sister wrote a scathing note back stating that her mother did not want to see them because the ex had a different story regarding his sons. The step-sister and Naomi only exchanged Christmas cards, so she was surprised at the intensity of the venom. The step-sister also was a friend of the ex on Facebook, although she had not seen him in over 15 years.

Sometimes you just have to let people go and realize that this is in your own and children’s best interest. If someone has an idea so entrenched in their brain, it may be better just not to respond. Or keep them at a distance and only exchange holiday cards, without a personal message.

Another issue in a situation like this, is how to gently explain something to your children. Part of the vitriol of that letter was specifically directed at her younger son. She told both boys that Grandma was unable to meet up with them for that visit. Naomi is going to show her other son (in his early 20s) that letter a bit later. You don’t want to harbor family secrets, but rather to discuss family issues in a therapeutic way. We can’t change toxic family members’ behavior, only our response (or lack of) to it. Talk this over with friends and if it still bothers you, possibly to a therapist or clergy.


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