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Your Family

SCRIPTS FOR COMMUNICATING WITH

Communicating with your family about your divorce can be touchy.  We offer straightforward, honest words to convey your needs to the people closest to you.

 

1.

When your family stays closer to your (ex) spouse than you’re comfortable with

THE SITUATION
 

You’re divorcing but your family doesn’t seem as willing to separate from him.

THE DESIRED OUTCOME
 

For your family to provide some needed distance from your ex.

THE STRATEGY

Convey to your family that you’re asking them to agree to distance right now. Try to remember that he is a part of your family’s family, too. As difficult as this is for you, it’s difficult for them as well. The idea here is that you need to let some time pass so you can heal, not that this necessarily has to be forever for them.   

THE SCRIPTS

  1. I know he’s been a part of our family for a long time and that this divorce affects you, too.  Right now, it'd be very painful for me to see him at family events. I'd appreciate it if you respect my wishes and not invite him.  It may not be forever but for at least the next few months, I need the support of my family on this.
     

  2. I need you to know that it hurts me that you’re talking to him right now. I know you and he are close, but we’re siblings. I'm asking you, for now, to put family first. You can let him know that I asked you to do this and you’re honoring my request. I may feel differently in time, but this is how I feel right now. 

 

2.

When your family speaks badly about your spouse to/in front of your kids

THE SITUATION
 

Your family says inappropriate or hurtful things in front of your children.

THE DESIRED OUTCOME
 

To persuade your family to stop this behavior.

THE STRATEGY 

Show your family why this behavior is harmful to the kids. Your family may be very protective of you and believe they’re doing the right thing. Or they’re so angry they’re not even thinking about their actions.  Either way, children are hurt when they hear negative things said about their parents.  Psychologists explain that children believe they are half of each of you, so if something is said about a parent, the child thinks the same of himself.  You don't have to convince your family not to feel those things; just that saying them (directly or indirectly) is hurting the ones they love.

THE SCRIPTS

  1. Mom and Dad, I know that you’re very protective of me and I love you for it. I understand you’re angry with Alan, but it’s really important that we don’t let the kids hear or feel that from us. No matter what’s going on between us, he’s their dad and they need to feel that we support their relationship. It’s very important for their well-being. So because you love them, please only say positive or neutral things about their father — or don’t say anything about him at all. What they need from you the most right now is love and support.
     

  2. It might seem funny to us adults, but kids believe they are half of each parent. If you put down their dad, they think you’re putting them down, and that something is wrong with them too. I know you’d never want to do that.
     

  3. Please don’t speak negatively about Alan in front of the kids. They love us both and talking about him puts them in the middle.  If they feel they’re being forced to choose sides or to love one of us more than the other, they’re going to feel terrible. You and I can feel however we feel, but the kids need to be kept out of it.

 

3.
How to communicate with his family

THE SITUATION 
 

You need to find a new way to communicate with your (former) in-laws

THE DESIRED OUTCOME
 

  • To maintain a healthy relationship with them for yourself and/or your children.

  • To set boundaries if needed.

THE STRATEGY

Show positive intent and respect.  If you maintain a close relationship with them post-separation, great. If they’re less than polite towards you, set boundaries but lead by example. Remember that while you can’t control how other people behave, you can always control your own actions. If you need a little distance right now, it’s fine to express that. But do reassure them they’ll still see their grandkids - that’s important for your children.

THE SCRIPTS 
 

  1. If they’re supportive of you but you still want to mind what you say

    I so appreciate your love and support. We’re family and this doesn’t change that. But I also realize that he’s your son and I won’t get in the way of your relationship with him. I hope we can get together and of course I will bring the kids to see you, but also understand if there are some things I’m not comfortable talking about right now. 
     

  2. If they are ugly towards you or seem to be trying to meddle

    This is a very hard time for all of us. I know the divorce impacts you too. I don’t want any of us to say or do things that we might regret later. So I think we should have a little space right now. I hope we can have a positive relationship with each other once things settle down. I won’t stand in the way of your relationship with the kids, but I do expect you to speak respectfully about me to them. You will always be their grandparents and I want them to have a healthy and happy relationship with you.

 

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