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Don't forget your kids' relationships with family after divorce

For many children of divorcing parents, one source of anxiety and unhappiness may be that they won't be able to see extended family members as often as they are used to. That includes not just grandparents, but uncles, aunts and cousins.

If your and your co-parent's siblings and their families live halfway across the country and your kids barely know them, there won't be much change. However, many kids have cousins who live nearby and with whom they share a bond. These cousins as well as aunts and uncles with whom they're close can be an important source of support and normalcy after their parents' break-up.

Often, couples think that it's up to the spouse who's related to the family members in question to ensure that their kids get to maintain contact with them. However, it's important for both parents to be supportive of letting their children engage in activities with them.

Perhaps your wife's niece's birthday party is on one of "your" weekends with the kids. If your kids want to attend, put aside whatever feelings you have and consider how important it is for them. Maybe your husband's sister is in town on an evening when your daughter is normally at home with you. If she wants to spend time with her favorite aunt, think about what's best for her.

Generally, the more accommodating one co-parent is, the more the other will reciprocate. This can help your kids maintain strong ties with all of their family members that will benefit them into adulthood.

Unfortunately, some aunts and uncles use their time with the kids to put down the other parent or perhaps to "snoop" on behalf of their sibling. They may pass their negative views onto their own kids, impacting their relationships with their cousins.

It's essential that both you and your co-parent lay down the law with these family members that their interactions with your kids are positive and they don't speak ill of either of you in front of their own children. Often, this is best coming from the parent whose sibling is engaging in this kind of behavior.

If your kids are close to family members whom you want to remain in their lives, it may be something you can address in your parenting plan. Your Tennessee family law attorney can advise you regarding your specific situation.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "Aunts, Uncles, & Cousins: What happens to them after a divorce?," accessed Nov. 14, 2017

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