Divorce Devastation

3 Jul

Letterbalm Wedding RingsDear LetterBalm: My oldest son and his wife are getting a divorce, and it’s not an amicable one, mostly because of my son. They have two young children, and he’s become obsessed, arguing over every detail, from visitation rights to child support. He’s angry and unreasonable and he speaks ill of our daughter-in-law in front of the children. We’ve tried to tell him how damaging this is for everyone, but he won’t listen. As far as we can tell, he wanted the divorce because he’s in a relationship with a co-worker, and they want to marry. Our daughter-in-law has been remarkably mature and charitable through the whole thing. The problem: My husband and I love her and her family, and we want them and our grandchildren in our lives. My son has threatened to cut us out of his life and stop us from seeing the children. It’s a mess. How do we restore some balance here?

–Tearing Our Hair Out

Ms. L.B. says your son is feeling guilty, guilty, guilty – even if he doesn’t acknowledge it – and he’s taking it out on everyone. Check with a lawyer to see if your son can require his spouse to withhold the children from your company or forfeit custody. It may take some wrangling and legal fees to secure, but your rights as grandparents may be on the books in your state. Don’t discuss this with your son, his wife or anyone. And don’t press him anymore – he’s a grown man (and, if he softens, you might find you also like his second wife). When all is legally settled, see if your lawyer will agree to this conciliatory note to your son:

Dear Herman,

Your father and I are taking this opportunity to put our thoughts on paper. You’re a grown man, and we know you can accept what we’re about to say.

We love you, but we do not like your behavior in the past year. Divorce is painful enough without anger and unreasonableness. You have spoken disrespectfully about Mona in front of the children, and you have threatened a custody battle if she visits us with or without them. This is unacceptable. Our attorney also informs us that this kind of intimidation is unenforceable. So, Mona, Max and Laurie and Mona’s family will remain in our lives. We will do our best to see them separately, but that is the reality.

Herman, we want you in our lives – you are our son and we will always love you. We are not taking sides. We hope you will stop being angry so that we can get to know Sheila, whom you obviously love. From the bottom of our hearts, we believe that your divorce doesn’t have to divide the family.

Love,

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