Dilemma: I don't want my relationship with son-in-law to change
My daughter recently divorced her husband, leaving him for another man. I have stayed loyal and supportive of her throughout the divorce. I am also still close to my ex-son-in-law, who is a wonderful man and a great father.
My daughter now says I mustn’t have any contact with him, but I want to continue providing him with the support I’ve given him for the past 20 years, not least for the sake of the grandchildren.
What can I do?
Dilemma: I don't want to lose touch with daughter-in-law
Dawn French's advice
Hmm, it seems to me this is all about boundaries, and when the right boundaries are set and respected by everyone, you’ll be surprised how much freer you will feel inside them. It’s ironic really.
Firstly, for your daughter to say that you must have no communication with your ex-son-in-law is pretty unreasonable and probably unworkable where the children are concerned, but think about why she has said this.
I bet she feels the need to have the full support of her tribe around her, especially if she’s experiencing even an iota of guilt about the upset she’s caused. So, perhaps you might reassure her that you are firmly in her camp and that your love and loyalty are never going to be in question?
I also find your reference to ‘providing the support I’ve given him for 20 years…’ intriguing. Surely your support was to the whole family unit? I would encourage you to rethink your role in your ex-son-in-law’s life. Perhaps he needs to lean a bit more on his own tribe for support now? You can always remain kind and considerate, but perhaps at one step removed, and without any ill will.
These difficulties are the collateral damage of divorce, sadly. But your main job as Supergran is to make sure all your grandchildren feel loved by everyone, and don’t have to deal with any further disharmony.
Of course, if that doesn’t work, you could take a totally weird turn and marry your former son-in-law yourself, thereby becoming both granny and stepmum to your grandchildren. I can’t see any problems there…