In some families, including grandmothers in Mother’s Day celebrations is a matter of course.
If you read my blog regularly, you know that I often talk about the collateral damage in divorce. Grandmothers can be collateral damage for lots of reasons, but the two reasons I pick are:
- It can be difficult to get along with your former mother-in-law – especially if your relationship was strained before your divorce.
- If you are a divorced grandmother, you might have issues with your own adult children (or in-laws).
I remember a couple of Mother’s Days in my childhood where I thought it was grandmother’s day because there was so much deference paid to my grandmother. If this is your first Mother’s Day after divorce, you may feel like you don’t want to include a grandmother in your celebrations. It may feel too painful to include your mother-in-law, or it may bring up emotional baggage for you related to the divorce. However, let me offer some advice: your children are watching and taking cues from you.
If you never included grandmothers before, don’t feel that you need to change the tradition, unless my writing inspires you to consider the idea. However, if you have included grandmothers previously and you stop at the divorce, what message will this send your children? Remember, children are always watching what you do. What advice would you provide your child about this, if your child was the mother?
3 Tips for Including Grandmother in Mother’s Day Celebrations After Divorce
Here are a few tips for including your children’s grandmother in your Mother’s Day fun after divorce, if you feel so moved. Again, these issues are up for debate, but you might find it is a nice tradition. In my first marriage, it was easier to include my mother-in-law than to deal with the drama of not having her there.
1. Set some boundaries for grandma.
Make sure she knows you are not going to be talking about your divorce from her child, and that she’s not to talk to your children about your divorce. This is a day to celebrate motherhood – and that’s all.
2. Encourage grandma to participate in something related to the day.
This way, you don’t feel like including her is extra work/expense for you. I suggest going to brunch because then no one has to cook – but you can include cooking if you want. If your mother-in-law is a great cook, perhaps she could teach your pre-teen children how to make an old family recipe. Or maybe grandma can get brunch for you and the kids, and you can pay for her brunch. If her financial situation is better than yours, perhaps she could take you all out to brunch.
3. Go out in public (pandemic permitting).
This is always a sound practice for difficult relationships. It prevents conflict from escalating in many circumstances, and if your ex accompanies grandma on the outing, it will help keep all the adults on their best behavior.
Remember – you’re divorcing your spouse, not necessarily the other family members. Our children’s grandparents remain their grandparents after the divorce, and this can create a lot of stress if the in-law relationship is less than cordial. But if you carry yourself with grace, poise, and dignity, you will be able to hold your head high and survive anything that comes up.