Divorce is never fun. While some couples manage to keep things fairly copacetic, others can’t hide their anger and bitterness. Uncomfortable situations are only exacerbated when young children are involved. I’m a newly single mom (I filed for divorce in July), and I’m struggling with parenting my three daughters in this new framework. Do you know someone going through a separation or divorce and are you wondering how you can help? Here are things that have seen me through my darkest hours thus far:
1. Remind her she’s not alone. She has you, after all. Reminding her once is probably not enough.
2. Cook her dinner and drop it off, or offer to eat with her. Casseroles are good because there are usually leftovers, so she’ll have two evenings “off.”
3. If you have kids of your own, schedule a play date with her. The kids can
run amuck entertain themselves while you talk. You can still chat about “normal” things; in fact, it may help distract her, and let’s be honest — those kids are probably eavesdropping!
4. If you’re feeling especially brave, offer to watch her kiddos and send her off for some alone time or banish her to her room for a bubble bath.
5. Know any other moms going through the same thing? Would they be a good fit? Could you connect them with her?
6. Books for her kids (about divorce):
- Dinosaurs Divorce
- It’s Not Your Fault, Koko Bear
- When My Parents Forgot How to Be Friends
- Mom’s House, Dad’s House For Kids
7. Books for her (about divorce):
- How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed
- Vicky Lansky’s Divorce Book for Parents
- What About the Kids? Raising Your Children Before, During, & After Divorce
8. Call, email, or text to check in, particularly when her kids are with their dad. While she may relish short breaks, she won’t be used to the silence and will worry a lot. She’ll welcome friendships and opportunities to be social. She might be reluctant to get out, but it’s good for her sometimes.
9. Divorce looks different for everyone, depending on the circumstances. What does she need? A gift card for gas or groceries? Financial or legal advice? An apartment? Someone to help her with the yard work? Especially if her family isn’t around or doesn’t live nearby, she may feel alone and reluctant to ask for help. Be the bridge. Do you know a lawyer or CPA she could talk to? Do you have a realtor friend? Do you have a teenager who wants to earn some extra cash by mowing her yard until she gets her bearings? Imagine yourself in her place for a minute and think about what you would need the most.
10. Hug her often. Don’t let her pull away. Don’t let her tell you she’s “fine.” She isn’t.
11. If the divorce is getting ugly and/or nasty, be aware that it’s virtually impossible not to choose sides; you may feel like you’re not in one camp or the other, but your actions speak louder than words.
12. When you chat with her, avoid general offers or statements like, “Let me know what I can do.” Instead, ask her directly:
*When can I bring you guys dinner?
*Can I grab any groceries for you while I’m at the store? Are you out of milk?
*Let’s meet for a cup of coffee. What day works best for you?
*I can come over to hang out with your kids on Monday or Tuesday. Which is best? I’d love for you to take some time for yourself.
13. If she is super reluctant or avoiding you, she probably feels embarrassed, lonely, overwhelmed, and afraid to ask for anything. You can still help! Send her a note in the mail. Ask your yard guy to do hers, or show up and get mowing, raking, weeding on your own. Write love notes all over her Facebook wall. Email her a list of divorce support group meetings in her area. Take her out to celebrate her independence (it’s okay if she cries). Get her a gift card to a grocery store (give it to her anonymously if you have to).
But most of all? Just be her friend. Let her know that will never change. Tell her over and over until she gets sick of hearing it. She needs you now more than ever. Your presence means more than anything.
Your constant friendship and loyalty are everything she needs while she’s going through divorce.
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This post was written by Erin Best exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.