The Ex Factor

Should you cut ties with your child’s former flame?

For three years, a suburban New York family embraced their son’s post college girlfriend. She joined them for Sunday dinners, birthdays, holidays, weddings and funerals. The unspoken expectation was marriage. Then, after several months of turmoil, the couple split. The man’s mom was heartbroken: “I feel like I lost a daughter,” she says.

Breaking up is hard — and not just for the young couple. Many parents form bonds with their adult child’s significant other. Perhaps they’ve known them since they were kids, or the couple lived together — almost married — so the partner was part of the family.

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