Today I want to offer you an instruction guide that you can give your friends (and even your parents!) when you tell them you are separating. This is a series of Do’s and Don’ts that will help them show up as an awesome friend during divorce.
Please don’t expect your friends and family to follow this Manual. That will cause a lot of disappointment. Remember, adults are allowed to do and say what they want. You cannot control that. This guide is just meant to serve as a resource for those people in your life who are interested in being as helpful as possible to you during this challenging time.
Feel free to forward the following guide to your friends and family:
General rules and guidelines
A person in the throws of a high-conflict divorce is like a drowning swimmer. You are not qualified to be their lifeline. You get to love them, listen to their cries, and offer reassurance that they will find the shore eventually.
Unless you have traveled this path – don’t offer any suggestions. Although well intended, they can endanger and prejudice your friend. Divorcing a terrorist is tricky stuff and the normal rules don’t apply.
Don’t offer suggestions of lawyers or litigation strategies unless you have successfully divorced a terrorist.
Don’t offer opinions about how shocking, ridiculous, unfair, and unreasonable everything is.
Don’t comment on how long it is all taking.
Don’t start a sentence with “Wait til the judge hears what s/he did…” Chances are the judge will not hear it or even care.
Don’t ask questions that start with: “Can’t your lawyer….?” .
Don’t tell them you saw this coming and never say “I told you so”
Don’t tell them that they created this for themselves.
Do invite them over – especially on weekends that they don’t have parenting time. Being without your kids for a weekend is one of the biggest hurdles your friend will face early on. (Shout out to my bestie Melissa who let me come to her chalet every other weekend for the first year of my separation).
Do invite the kids to your place to hang with your family. The kids are going through a serious shake up and need to know there are adults around who are watching out for them. They crave solid ground. This is an especially important recommendation for aunts, uncles and adult cousins.
Do listen to all of the drama and validate their experience without opinion.
Do remind them that they can do difficult things.
Do lighten things up with perspective. Remind them that no one has died, so nothing has gone seriously wrong yet.