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Ex-etiquette: Should she try to stay in lives of these kids?

By Jann Blackstone, Tribune News Service on

Published in Parenting News

Q. My ex and I are both in our 60's. We were together for 12 years. I caught him in a lie (not cheating) and he has ghosted me as a result. We have not spoken in 4 months. He has two young grandchildren, ages 1 and 3. I was involved in their lives and he insisted I be included as a true grandparent. I have examined my motives and I would like to send the children a card and $50 for their birthdays - no Christmas moving forward. I don't anticipate we will get back together, and no, the parents of these grandchildren have NOT reached out to me. What's good ex-etiquette?

A. There are a few red flags here. You say your ex is ghosting you, which implies you were not married or living together because if you had been, you would simply talk it through after an argument, not text. Therefore, if you were not married or living together, I question how involved you got with the kids - even at your ex's prompting. That sounds more like "grandpa's friend," not grandma, and based on that, continued involvement with children as young as 1 and 3 is questionable.

You've said you have examined your motives but still want to send these children $50 each year for their birthday. I would suggest you examine your motives again. Although unfortunate, the likelihood of children that young remembering you if their parents are not reinforcing the relationship is slim to none. This is not meant to diminish the noble gesture, just drive home what seems to be a futile effort to stay in touch.

My answer might be different if the children were older and you had cultivated a relationship with them; then the loss of a beloved grandparent would be confusing and hurtful. But the relationship you describe has barely had the opportunity to flourish, and if you really see no possibility of a reconciliation, why would you reinforce continued involvement with children you will never spend time with? Each birthday they will receive a gift of $50 from someone they don't know. Yes, each year that gesture may prompt a conversation of "years ago grandpa dated this woman who sends you $50 for your birthday," but what's the point?

 

To drive this reasoning home, a good friend had trouble growing up and at 16 went to live at her best friend's home until she graduated. She developed a lovely relationship with her best friend's mother and when she had children of her own, her best friend's mother sent money for her children's birthdays each year. The kids never met the woman, it only reinforced the love between my friend and her friend's mother - which was a lovely gesture - however, there was a connection between them. You are saying you want to send money to children you barely know, who barely know you, without the reinforcement of their parents. It doesn't sound like good ex-etiquette to me.

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(Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of "Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation," and the founder of Bonus Families, www.bonusfamilies.com. Email her at the Ex-Etiquette website www.exetiquette.com at dr.jann@exetiquette.com.)

(c)2020 Jann Blackstone, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.