Helping a Friend Through Divorce
Given that approximately 50% of US marriages will end in divorce, it is likely that you will encounter a divorcing friend more than a few times in your life.
Many times, knowing what to do or say is uncomfortable and tricky. Sometimes the old, “I’m so sorry to hear that,” just doesn’t feel like enough. So what is the best thing to say or NOT say? There are a few “rules of thumb.”
First, if you don’t know the friend very well, try to primarily be a good listener and keep any comments supportive and neutral. You may not know your friend well enough to know what he or she needs or what might hurt or offend him or her.
If you know the friend well, you may use more personalized comments. What helps or hinders a divorcing friend, varies largely depending on a multitude of factors. Sometimes it is best to just ask, “Hey, is there something I can do? Or something that you need? I want to help and be supportive, but don’t want to assume I know what you need here.”
One client that I was seeing for therapy, told me that the most helpful thing they received was a weekends’ worth of home cooked meals from a family member during one of the parenting times, this way the focus is on spending time with the kids, rather than on spending what precious little time with them, in the kitchen.
Often times, I’ve heard my clients tell me that they don’t need affirmations, or slamming of their ex, or even advice, but rather, good old-fashioned listening.
Written by: Dr. Lisa Rene Reynolds
About the Author:
The author is an assistant professor of marriage and family therapy in the Master’s program at Iona College in New York. She is the author of many articles and books on divorce and parenting, including her most recent release, Parenting Through Divorce: Helping Your Child Thrive During and After the Split, available in English, Polish, and Portuguese versions. www.drlisarenereynolds.com