Relationships between former intimate partners extend beyond themselves. Those relationships often include one’s parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. There may have been multiple connections with family on either side for either parent. Those relationships may have been positive, or they may have been conflicted.
Once a couple separates, extended family may have their own opinions as to what transpired for the couple. They may feel compelled to take sides; they may only be privy to a one-sided account of things; they may have reasonable and legitimate concerns; they may have difficulty managing their boundaries.
When the views and opinion of extended family intrude on the couple, conflict between the parents can escalate. Even well-intended input, particularly uninvited, can destabilize matters more between the separated parents, worsen matters for them, and by extension, the children.
It is typically suggested that parents maintain a boundary with their own family such that their input does not inadvertently escalate tensions and divide parents and kin further. Being forthright about intrusions and setting limits or exposure to those persons who cannot resist providing input may be necessary, at least in the short term in order to minimize the potential harm they may inadvertently create.
When extended family gets involved and cannot maintain their own boundaries it may also be helpful to limit the information provided to them, particularly if negative, so that they don’t get activated on your behalf.
If you are having difficulties managing the intrusions of the extended family of your co-parent, then do seek to inform your co-parent of your experience; indicate your concerns and request their assistance. It is so important that this be done respectfully and civilly.
If done with a sense of blame or shame, your former partner may react to your delivery and thus the outcome you seek may be lost.
If you choose to have someone advise your co-parent on your behalf, it is similarly important that the messenger, often a lawyer, do so without threat, intimidation or blame so as not to inflame matters and create more conflict or tension. Think in terms of explaining and requesting.