Divorce Advice From Family & Friends – Don’t Take It!
Divorce by its very nature brings up lots of judgments. Most people have strong opinions about divorce, strongly influenced by their own experiences or the programming of their upbringing.
You’re very unlikely to change anyone’s mind about the best way to handle divorce when you’re a parent. So don’t try.
Your family and friends mean well. They want to support and help you through any crisis. But be aware that along with their support they bring their personal prejudices. These are weighed down by the baggage of judgments that inevitably color their advice. If you allow yourself to be influenced by the well-meant suggestions of these individuals, you may find yourself falling into a deep quagmire of confusion or even depression.
No one walks in your shoes or has experienced your history. At the same time, most everyone has an agenda, and opinion on what you should or shouldn’t do based on how they see the world.
- Can your friends and family members, much as they do love you, be sincerely impartial at this time?
- Can they offer you the best perspective on how to move ahead with your life?
- Can they provide sound advice about your best options without their message being affected by their own life dramas and frustrations?
Be gracious about the advice you get – then do what is right for you!
In most cases, they cannot. When you’re besieged with advice, be gracious about accepting it. Listen and weigh its value. Then decide for yourself about what path you need to take next. Think about your innocent children and what decisions you need to make to best support them now, in the months to come, and in the years to follow.
- How will they remember this time?
- Will they understand your behaviors and decisions when they grow to maturity?
- Will they be unnecessarily scarred by what you say, do or don’t do at this time?
A professional therapist, divorce coach or member of the clergy with experience in these matters can be a sounding board for you while offering a more impartial perspective on your present situation. It makes sense to talk to such a professional for advice, feedback and as a gauge to see if the direction you are moving in is the wisest for everyone in your family.
Talk to mediators or Collaborative attorneys before traditional divorce lawyers steering you into litigation. Discuss their approach to protecting your children not only legally, but also psychologically and emotionally as you move ahead. If your legal team is not family focused and co-parenting oriented it’s unlikely the children’s real needs will be addressed and they may suffer the consequences long-term.
Trained professionals know how to remain dispassionate while providing encouragement and support. They know how to listen and ask questions that clarify your challenges and the options available to you. Once you come to a decision and feel it is the best and most congruent direction for you and your children, then you can take action with confidence.
Don’t ask for agreement from your friends and family.
Ask instead for their support.
This is a time for focus and clarity. Trust yourself and trust those who are trained to help during the stresses related to divorce or separation. You are making life-transforming decisions that will affect your family, and especially your children, for years and even decades to come. Lean in the direction of creating a “child-centered” divorce, putting your children’s emotional needs first and foremost, and you are much more likely to look back at this time with a sense of well-being.
You did the best you could for those whose lives are in your hands.
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