Divorce and the Extended Family

No matter what age the children are, they are a consideration in every divorce and every divorced family.  What about the extended family?  What happens when Aunt Susie and Uncle Tom divorce?

My mom’s side of the family is eclectic, to say the very least.  Yesterday, we went to our family reunion and it was truly a lesson in the meaning of family.  My mom’s half sister was there with her family.  As for DNA, they were the only ones we shared a bond with.  One aunt and one uncle are my grandmother’s step-children.  The other four uncles are (this may get confusing) my grandmother’s third husband’s ex-wife’s kids from her previous marriage.  After they divorced, his ex-wife passed away.  Rather than seeing their family ripped apart more than it had been by at least two divorces and a death, my grandparents took them in.

Even more amazing than the fact that I didn’t know this until a few years ago when curiosity made me question exactly how everyone was related is the fact that there were ex-wives at the picnic.  One of my uncles got divorced before I can even remember yet his wife was there.  Another uncle divorced his wife 10 years ago or so and his ex-wife was there.

When we arrived, everyone asked how my dad and his wife are doing.  They love and miss him.  To this family, divorce does not banish anyone.  Once you’re a part of the family, you’re a part of the family forever.

I often wonder how my younger cousin dealt with my parents’ divorce.  She was only seven when things unraveled.  That’s pretty young to comprehend what is going on.  Did she wonder where my mom went?  Did she ask?  If she did, what did her parents tell her?

Extended family is another overlooked segment of the family unit when a couple divorces.  There are times when everyone can get along and there are times when it’s no longer possible to keep in touch with an ex’s family.

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