How can I help my son through his divorce?

Relationship expert Jo Lamble answers many prickly questions in her book, Answers to Everyday Questions about Relationships. This week we publish the answer to how you can support your children through divorce.

Q. How can I help my son through his divorce?

A. Regardless of whether you liked your son’s wife, it can be extremely difficult for the extended family when someone is going through a divorce. Obviously, the main mission is to support your son, but how? Firstly, it’s important to be a good listener. Try to keep your opinions to yourself, even if you’re dying to put in your two cents’ worth. If you criticise your son’s wife, there may be a serious problem if there is a chance of reconciliation down the track. And if you try to convince him to stay in the marriage, he might end up feeling unsupported. Most people going through a break-up need to spend hours talking about it, so don’t underestimate the importance of listening. If your son is not a talker, you can show your support by just spending time with him.

If you have grandchildren, you can be a huge help to your son by spending time with them. Parents going through a divorce can be caught up in their own emotions and can have less headspace for the kids. If the children spend time with their extended family, then they can feel cocooned from the trouble and still feel part of a family.

Knowing whether to have contact with your daughter-in-law can be very tricky. You might not be interested in seeing or talking to her, but if the two of you were close, it can feel wrong to simply cut her off. Ask your son how he feels about you seeing his soon-to-be-ex wife. Some people don’t mind, as long as you don’t take her side and it’s not too often. Others would rather that there was no contact for the initial period when emotions are running high, but then slowly adjust to the idea of you having some contact.

Extract from the book Answers to Everyday Questions about Relationships by Jo Lamble

Published by Penguin

RRP: $19.95