Thursday, November 26, 2009

1, 2, 3, reasons to be careful

My brother-in-law has been in the throes of a nasty divorce for a year or so. His now ex-wife has custody of their children and so I'm concerned that my children will lose touch with their cousins altogether. As it was, we barely saw them.

It's soon the eldest's birthday and so today I got the children to write her a letter to go with her present and printed out some pictures of them to put in. I'm really anxious to get this right.

The eldest has rejected all contact with her father and also with her granny, my mother-in-law. She made herself too clearly on Dad's team, I think, and alienated her. Poor child has found herself in the position of choosing between, which should never have happened. She does want to maintain contact with father-in-law (the two parents-in-law divorced many years ago).

I made the damn fool mistake of going along with mother-in-law regarding sending presents to where the dad is now living, because she wanted us all to show support to him and so he could provide super-duper birthday/Christmas times during access. But with eldest refusing to see him, that doesn't truck too well. I didn't want to rock the boat and upset mother or brother-in-law. And because she's a retired social worker, I assumed she knew what she was doing. But of course, she's too emotionally involved. I don't know why I didn't see it before.

So now, to put this right. Daughter will obviously want a reply from her cousin to this letter she wrote today, and ideally a penpal relationship if nothing else. I'm hoping that this will be acceptable to the mum and that we don't fall into the rejected pile of the child.

I don't want to cause a problem by just barging in and going straight to the daughter, possibly offending the mum who might not want us in their lives. And of course, she will likely pick up the post so it's not like sneaking is an option! I'm thinking that I should send the parcel with a covering letter to her, explaining that we'd like to keep in touch. It's a tricky one to write. I can't ignore the divorce, but I'm certainly not wanting to take sides or engage with the rights and wrongs of it all. So I thought I'd just acknowledge they've had a difficult year and voice the hope they'll have better times ahead.

Even if this goes well, and they respond, I'm worried that mother-in-law and brother-in-law will see it as disloyal. Should I tell them about it or just see what happens? Should I send presents to both places (can't afford it, so it's moot)?

Staying in touch with the children has to be more important than other considerations, hasn't it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you are doing the right thing. You never know, the child might grow up ever so grateful of her auntie and cousins who made the effort despite everything. I know from experience that it bites the big one, being a child of divorce and feeling like the divorce also cuts you off from cousins and grandparents. Abster x