Q: Our daughter-in-law is getting remarried. We wish her the best and are pleased that she is moving forward after the death of our son and her husband. But we have some misgivings about what is going on.
We have spent a lot of time supporting our daughter-in-law since our son died and we have always made an effort to help her with our grandchildren. Letting them go to their new lives is going to be hard. We will miss them. We do not know much about her new husband except that he was divorced and has two children of his own from a previous marriage. He sees them on weekends.
What will we do if he is not as caring about our grandchildren as we think he should be? How can we be there for the kids?
A: This is going to be difficult.
The problem is that you do not have the legislative right to interfere in any way with what is going on in their household. Most provinces have provisions for grandparents to keep in touch with their grandchildren and allow occasional visits. The only way you can interfere is if your daughter-in-law’s new husband is either physically or sexually abusive toward the children.
Even then, the courts would not automatically give you opportunities to care for them. They would consider your home as one of many options they would review in the best interests of the children.
Blended families have tons of rewards but they also carry their fair share of difficulties. Everyone will find moments when the stress of getting used to each other will seem overwhelming but you must let them sort through this new arrangement.
If you interfere with their daily lives, you risk not only causing more problems for them but also jeopardizing the bond with your grandchildren.
Studies tell us that children can be remarkably resilient and can deal with almost any stress when they have caring and supportive relationships, either with grandparents, teachers or friends.
Those special relationships are built on caring and respect for the children, encouraging them with their school work, supporting their community activities and having special times or activities with them.
Jacklin Andrews is a family counsellor from Saskatchewan. Contact: [email protected]