Children as casualties of family feuds

A friend of mine is not getting on with her mother-in-law and, guess what? The fall-out between then has resulted in the mother not allowing her children to see their grandmother. How unfair, I think: Her standpoint is that if her mother-in-law does not like her, then why would she like her children? I feel for the poor kids who have lost out on grandmother’s love and attention because adults have not been able to sort out their differences. The sad thing is that they are young and cannot stand up for themselves, so what mama says, goes.

When kids are the casualties of family arguments

This got me thinking whether sometimes we realise how unfair we can be to our children. Before the feud there was a grandmother/grandkids relationship and now the kids find themselves fighting battles. When siblings do not get along, it’s the same thing where their children are caught in the middle. Poor kids are losing out on their aunts and uncle, cousins etc. It is not easy: I know and I have been there, but I prefer to deal with the adult and not get the children involved. They have their own relationships to form with the rest of the family. Feuds are just part of extended family dynamics, unfortunately.

Watch what you say in front of the kids

With all the negative words being said about each other it can be uncomfortable for the kids. A kid sees an aunt who does not get along with her parents,  and is not sure whether to greet them or not; if she does, it’s as if she’s betraying her parents,  if she doesn’t, she’ll feel  guilty and it will come across as being disrespectful, especially as the aunt did not do anything to her personally. This is really quite a heavy load that we are letting our kids carry.

This guilt is totally unfair to the child. Sometimes feuds can go to extremes and have people accusing each other of jealousy. Sometimes I wonder about the legacy we are leaving our children if they have to grow up having to cope in the midst of complicated family dynamics right at home. A strong family unit is one of the most essential foundations a person can have. There are also people who leave their homes because of family feuds and never to come back. That is a member of the family lost because of an inability to resolve issues.

Let older kids decide

Realistically, dropping off my kids at a relative I do not get along with cannot be that easy, but I think if the child is old enough and wants to visit them then I should allow him. Kids can also play a role in resolving issues. Sometimes the burdens we let our children carry can be a bit heavy for them and then we then do not understand when they act out. Let’s not get children involved in adult matters.

Read more by Masanda Peter

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

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