Ex-etiquette: Tell grandma to stop badmouthing
Question: I have been divorced for several years. My ex rarely interacts with our son, who is now 9. My son and I have recently hit some hard times, and we are living with my mother.
I have been thinking about dating a man I have known for 20 years. His ex is my best friend. He is sweet and kind, and my friend has given us her blessing, saying she actually thinks it would be a good match.
The problem is, even though my son has never met this guy, he does not like him. I believe it is because of something my mother said to my son. She does not want me to get involved with this man. What's good ex-etiquette?
Answer: There's red flags all over the place at your house!
First, it's questionable ex-etiquette to date your BFF's ex. Granted, you are both adults, and she's given you her blessing, but it may be too close for comfort. If you do go forward, make sure you all promise not to ask for comparisons on any level — ever — and stick to it no matter how “in love” or curious you become.
Second, hard economic times have hit many of us, and quite a few adult children are finding themselves living once again with their parents. So many have confided, although they couldn't make it without their parents' generosity, that it became problematic when parenting their children.
Sometimes, the grandparents were more lenient, and the parents complained that their kids were getting away with murder, or the grandparents complained that the parents were too lenient and they tried to instill some discipline in their grandchildren — often without consulting the parents. This caused confusion in the children and tension between the parents and grandparents.
If parents and children move in with grandparents, it's best to establish clear boundaries from the start. Get clear about the house rules — who will discipline and what are the consequences when the children break the rules? Vow not to undermine each other's efforts, and be honest and straightforward in your communications with each other (Ex Etiquette rule No. 8), and then write up a formal contract as to how you will address disagreements prior to moving in.
Finally, badmouthing anyone, and this includes grandma badmouthing a friend of yours in front of the child, is bad ex-etiquette. (Ex-etiquette rule No. 3, No badmouthing!) Even if you don't end up dating this man, he is a good friend, and attempting to color your child's opinion about someone you value is extremely disrespectful of you and detrimental to your child.
Badmouthing a valued friend also teaches your child to gossip and introduces allegiance and betrayal considerations that are difficult for a child to sort out.
It's time to talk to grandma. Hopefully, she doesn't realize she's speaking out of turn and will stop when you tactfully point out the damage she's doing.
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. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Stupid Steelers
- Pitt recruit Rowan leaving Lincoln Park
- State Superior Court upholds conviction, sentence of former Justice Melvin
- New Kensington slaying victims identified
- It’s only exhibition, but these Steelers could solidify roster spots vs. Eagles
- Power outage keeps HOV lanes closed Thursday afternoon
- Steelers running backs Bell, Blount will face drug charges
- Kiss’ makeup has changed, but their impact remains strong
- Somerset police charge man with kidnapping, robbing 82-year-old
- Comedian Josh Wolf likes to be honest and funny onstage
- Pitt sophomore Coles leaves football team