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After divorce, keep in-laws from becoming enemies

When a marriage ends, new relationships start.

There's the task of creating a peaceful co-existence with an ex-spouse, especially if children are involved. Then there are the friends, who might feel that socializing with one ex or another means they have taken sides. And when divorce hits a family, it reaches the extended family, too, including the in-laws.

That might prove the trickiest relationship of all to navigate. After all, since the in-laws likely will remain fiercely loyal to their son and daughter, both sides need to figure out a new place in the other's life.

It might take some time for you and the former in-laws to feel comfortable around each other, but two Southern California experts in divorce recovery offer these tips for the newly divorced person to deal with the ex's family.

1. Be aware that seeing each other could be awkward at first. All sides need to work through the change in the family structure.

2. Try to continue a close relationship. Those who had a good relationship with their in-laws should tell them that they would like to stay a part of their lives.

3. Understand that older people might struggle to cope with change. Always treat your former in-laws with respect, even if they act less than cordial.

4. Speak positively about the in-laws' son or daughter. Don't blame the failure of the marriage on their child.

5. Use caution in discussing details of a new life with the in-laws. They might not enjoy hearing about new friends or dates. Plus, they likely will repeat any information to their son and daughter, and that's some information the recently divorced might not want their former spouse to know.

6. Never use the children as pawns or as punishment. If the children and their grandparents enjoyed a close relationship, allow the relationship to continue. Include the grandparents in as many activities as is convenient and practical.

Source: Huffington Post, "From In-laws to Outlaws," Allison Pescosolido and Andra Brosh, Dec. 23, 2011

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