Most people turn to their friends and family for support and empathy when they are going through stressful family situations. Divorced parents that I speak with a report that this is not always the best choice when it comes to discussing their high conflict divorce and parental alienation issues. In fact, most say that turning to their family/friends has been a big mistake.
When you share your personal divorce saga with your family/friends, it is very difficult for them to be objective. Most times they are incapable of seeing the situation neutrally because they are too emotionally involved. Friends and family members take your side without hearing the other side of the story because they want to be there for you. Unfortunately, their bias may be your biggest issue in moving forward with your ex.
Although you might find your family and friends comforting, it can backfire miserably when it comes to dealing with your ex. Often times they will say, “It’s about time that you got rid of him or your kids will come back to you when they are ready, you need to move on for now.” All these responses do is fuel your hatred towards your ex even more and leads to even more emotional chaos that later affects your children. Once you open this door to accepting advice from your family/friends it is very difficult to close it. Instead of finding comfort, their advice often perpetuates more stress because you feel that you have to uphold their feelings as well when it comes to your ex.
When it comes to finding support from family and friends for parental alienation and divorce the better choice is to say, “Thank you for your advice but I need to figure this out on my own.” This statement will prevent you from your family and friends automatically taking your side or in some instances turning on you and taking your ex’s side. Less is more when it comes to sharing your story about your divorce issues with family/friends. Instead, the best thing you can do is turn to unbiased professionals.
Here are 4 ways your family and friends can be supportive of you when going through parental alienation and high conflict divorce: If they are not supportive, run for the hills……
- Listening not judging: Keep your opinions to yourself! Your friends/family can listen but should not judge your ex-spouse. Providing a divorcee with comments such as, “I never liked him or her,” is not being supportive, rather it is adding to the pain they already feel. Friends/family should listen and then say, “Your decision has to be your own about what you want to do.”
- Avoid placing blame. Although you want your family and friends to side with you on every aspect of your ex-spouse’s horrific behavior, this is not the best move. When someone sides with you, objectivity is lost. Remember it takes two to get married, two to have children and two to get divorced. Blame only causes more stress. Your family and friends should avoid blaming anyone and instead support YOUR decisions.
- Remember it’s about them, not about you: This divorce is not about your parents and or your friends. They have not lived your life nor walked in your shoes. True supportive family and friends recognize this and keep their boundaries. Although your parents may have every right to be upset that they cannot see their grandchildren, they do not have every right to say to you “fix it” so “I can feel better.”
- Let them rant: Every person who experiences divorce or parent alienation needs an outlet. Family and friends can be a listening board but not always a responsive one. Allow divorcees to rant but refrain from advice giving. Sometimes people just need to let out steam.
About Dr. Sue
Dr. Sue Cornbluth is a nationally recognized parenting expert in high conflict parenting situations. She is a regular mental health contributor for an array of networks and television shows such as NBC, FOX and CBS. Dr. Sue has also contributed to several national publications. Her new best-selling book, “Building Self Esteem in Children and Teens who are Adopted or Fostered is available now.