Talking to Your Family Members at the Holidays About Your Divorce
Telling parents about divorce can be hard enough. I have seen the tension in a divorce increase too many times as a result of meddling family members or friends. During the holidays, we tend to interact with family members and friends more than we do all year long, so there is even more opportunity for meddling than there typically is.
From my professional experience, it's so hard to watch when a couple has committed to handling their settlement in a mature and respectful way, but someone gets in one of their ears and tears the whole thing apart.
When I sit down with my clients who are going through mediation, I always encourage them to keep the conversations that happen in mediation in the mediation room. I know that when you're emotional, you may want to vent to a friend or a family member. However, divorce is a difficult process for everyone who is involved, and a meddling family member can make it even more complicated.
A good alternative to venting to friends and family members is joining a divorce support group.
Related post: How to Ask Your Spouse to Mediate Your Divorce
If you're dealing with meddling family members during your divorce, consider asking them to refrain from:
1. Picking sides.
One of the most common ways people meddle in a divorce is to choose sides. In reality, nobody ever knows the whole story. Family members who choose sides in a divorce complicate the process. They can prevent or delay resolutions and keep the couple from settling.
2. Giving unsolicited advice.
Family members often mean well by trying to share unsolicited advice. However, unless they work with divorcing couples on a professional basis, their advice may be incorrect. The wrong advice can create serious legal or financial issues in a divorce for you.
3. Shaming your ex.
Divorce is messy enough without having to handle your ex being publicly shamed. Hurting your ex will only create more anger, resentment, and revenge. Discourage your family members from gossiping about your ex or your divorce.
Family members can, however, offer their support without hurting the other side. This will encourage a quicker and more successful resolution.
4. Criticizing the divorce settlement agreement.
Your family may think they're being supportive by criticizing the divorce agreement, but in reality, they can be creating new issues. You have to ask them not to interfere with your divorce settlement. Ask for support and understanding instead.
5. Discussing your divorce with your kids.
If your divorce involves children, you don't want family members making them feel worse about the transition or confusing them. Make sure your family understands that you and your ex will be the only ones to discuss the divorce with your children.
Related post: Helping Kids Through Divorce
Keep in mind that children are vulnerable and often have difficulties handling a divorce. They can make easy targets for meddling family members who want information from them. Family members can also plant ideas in the children's heads and make them worry about things unnecessarily.
Establish clear guidelines with your family regarding your kids during the divorce. They need to understand that you're in charge and will discuss the necessary topics at your own pace. Your kids shouldn't be placed in the center of the divorce or used to gather information.
Also, be sure to remind your family members to refrain from saying negative things about your ex to the children.
6. Fighting with your ex.
An argument or a fight with your ex can have lasting consequences and may create further legal challenges. Your family may be trying to protect you, but it's a bad idea to start fights with your ex. At the extreme, physical altercations can lead to court or jail, and the emotional damage can last even longer.
Your divorce doesn't have to suffer from outside meddling. That's right. I said it. You can take control over how you communicate about your divorce. Learn how to handle meddling family members and make the process easier for everyone involved.
Related post: 7 Tips for Social Media During Your Divorce
My Personal Experience
I was very fortunate in my divorce. My ex and I both maintained a high level of respect for each other's privacy throughout the process. My mom and I are very close, and she helps quite a bit with my children. I would never know it if she had a negative or critical thing to say because all she ever showed me was unconditional support throughout the process. I do wish everyone could have that experience with their family members.
Related post: Your First Christmas After Divorce
If you need assistance with your financial settlement agreement, schedule a Financial Consultation. It will leave you feeling empowered to make wise financial decisions.
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