Reading this http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=547371 about “removing a parent from your life”, got me thinking about my own situation.
I have a 14 year old son from a previous marriage. My ex and I divorced about 8 years ago, when our son was six. About 11 years ago, when the kid was 3, (while we were married) my ex decided to cut off all ties to her mother and brother and extended family. The decision for my ex was the result of an argument that she had with her brother, and when relating it to her mother, felt that her mother inappropriately took her brother’s side. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back with regard to my wife. She wrote the entire family a letter announcing that she was cutting off all ties with them. This was something that I did not agree with and it almost resulted in the end of our marriage at that time. But I relented believing that since it was my wife’s family, I would support her in her decision. Her family tried to contact us several times over the next few years, but those contacts were rebuffed.
After we divorced, three years later, my ex and I worked out joint 50/50 custody of our son. I continued to respect her wishes about no contact with her family, as we had moved several times and her family had apparently given up trying to find us…besides it was still her family.
Fast forward seven years (about a year ago) I had friended my ex-sister in law on Facebook. Found out she had divorced my ex’s brother and caught up with what was going on with her and my two nephews, and shared information about my son and my new marriage. Also found out that my ex mother-in-law was in bad health.
My son had no memories of his grandmother or cousins. The last time he had seen them was when he was 3. He was now thirteen, and my hope was that when he reached 18, he could decide for himself if he wanted to find his extended family on his mother’s side. But with the prospect of his grandmother passing, I was concerned his opportunity to meet his grandmother would pass if I did nothing.
So…I asked him if he had any desire to see his grandmother and cousins. He was interested but was concerned that his mother would be very angry at him if she found out about his contact with them. I assured him that I would try and take the brunt of any wrath that she might dish out if she were to find out.
The grandmother and the cousins live several states away. So coincidentally, I found out when one of his and my favorite bands was touring and playing in a large city near where the grandmother and cousins live and planned a road trip for my son and I to go to the concert. Which is the reason for the trip that I explained to my ex.
I contacted the grandmother and the cousins and made arrangements for me and my son to see everyone. That was a year ago and my son writes letters and speaks to his grandmother and cousins on the phone periodically when he is with me. His grandmother (my ex-mother-in-law) has told me that reconnecting with her grandson has been one of the most fullfilling things that she has done.
As far as I know, my ex has no knowledge of the reconnection, but I’m sure at some point it will come out. I feel that I made the right decision for my son, but worry about whether I should have been more forthright with his mother. What are your thoughts?