Parents Making Divorce Decisions: Don’t Take Advice from Family and Friends

Divorce is a subject that, by its very nature, brings up lots of judgments. Most people seem to have strong opinions about divorce, primarily influenced by their own experiences or the programming of their upbringing. It’s very unlikely that any one argument will change the mind of someone who feels in direct opposition about the subject. This is important to keep this in mind when you find yourself going through the trials of separation or divorce.

Your family and friends all mean well. They want to support and help you through any crisis. But be aware that along with their support they bring with them the baggage of opinions and 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 and has experienced your history. At the same time, most everyone has an agenda, an 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?

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 divorce attorney, mediator, therapist 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. 

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 most optimum and congruent direction for you and your children, take action and move ahead. 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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One comment on “Parents Making Divorce Decisions: Don’t Take Advice from Family and Friends

    While I agree with most of this article, I don’t believe attorneys can be a good impartial sounding board and must be weighed with skepticism. While not all attorneys are unethical and conflicted in terms of telling you what is in your best children’s interest, most are. It is their job to “win” for you, not your children. Counselors and parenting professionals are far more trustworthy and neautral.

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