5 Mistakes You Can Make When Your Brother or Sister Gets a Divorce That Will Hurt Them and Their Kids

Let’s face it; divorce happens and it happens all too often.

When your sibling goes through a divorce and there are children involved, it’s usually not a good idea to pit one parent against the other by using their children. How is this helping? How is this being loving and supportive?

Children of Divorce

Teens whose parents are separated have their world turned upside down. They no longer have two parents living under the same roof, and they may find themselves being separated from their sibling(s) if their brother and or sister choose to live with mom and or dad.

Separation and divorce aren’t something that children expect, but it happens far too often these days.

The last thing children need is an aunt or uncle messaging them on Facebook and blasting them about not calling and or spending time with their mom and or dad. Unless you live with your nieces and nephews, you don’t know the whole story of what lead to their parents’ separation/divorce.

Divorce Hurts Everyone

Separation and divorce isn’t something that most married couples expect to happen. For the most part they believe they’ll have a ‘happily ever after,’ but that can turn sour once you’ve realized you married someone you have no desire to be married to anymore.

When you realize that it’s time to get out of your marriage, you don’t need interference from family members who don’t know the entire story.

“Divorce is the psychological equivalent of a triple coronary bypass.” ~ Mary Kay Blakely

Aunts and uncles who stick their noses where it doesn’t belong don’t have their niece and nephew’s best interest at heart. If they did, they would offer to take them to the movies, on vacation, or just to have a chat. They would make it known to their niece and nephew that they are there for them no matter what instead of coming at them with ‘guns blazing’ through Facebook or some other social media website.

Don’t Play the Victim for Your Sibling 

If your sibling’s separation/divorce is painful then he or she could speak up about it. They could seek help from a psychologist and or life coach. Plus, if they truly cared about their spouse and children, they would do everything in their power to get them back instead of sitting on the sidelines and feeling sorry for themselves.

Sometimes, a spouse will act more like a child than an adult when they experience a separation or divorce. They lash out and throw temper tantrums. They whine and pout. And they try to get someone else to fight their battles. This doesn’t help your sibling — it only hurts them.

Anyone who’s had a sibling experience and separation, divorce, and or dissolution understands that it’s not an easy process. It’s mentally, emotionally, and financially draining. There are no winners in a divorce. The losers are usually the children because some parents expect them to take sides. This isn’t fair to kids.

So what could siblings do when their brother and or sister goes through a divorce, separation or dissolution?

5 Mistakes You Can Make When Your Brother or Sister Gets a Divorce That Will Hurt Them and Their Kids

Don’t message your niece and nephew through Facebook. Don’t send your niece and nephew a rude text message or IM them. If you really cared about them, you would pick up the phone and call them to see how they’re doing. You would offer to take them to the movies and out to dinner. You’d offer them the opportunity to go with you on vacation. If you haven’t given your niece and nephew the time of day, why would they care what you have to say?

Don’t mud sling. If you start throwing mud at your soon-to-be ex sister-in-law and or brother-in-law and their parents and siblings, you’ll only make them look good, especially in the eyes of the court. Bullying and harassing through Facebook is a ‘hot topic’ right now, and you could find yourself in deep doo-doo if you start slandering or defaming a person’s character. You may find yourself in a lot of trouble if you make false accusations and assumptions.

Don’t assume. In case you don’t know what assume means it means…”Don’t make an ‘ass out of you and me.” Unless you lived with your brother/sister and their kids, you have absolutely no idea what went on in their home. You weren’t there 24/7 — you don’t have all of the facts. Don’t assume that your niece and nephew lived in a wonderful and loving environment. Don’t assume that the home your niece and nephew lived in was neat and clean and not filled with the stench of cigarette smoke or animal urine. Don’t assume that your sibling was an attentive parent. Get the facts before you assume.

Don’t stick your nose where it doesn’t belong. Unless you have something positive to add to your sibling’s divorce, stay out of it. It has nothing to do with you. Only in extreme cases is it a good idea to get involved. But if it’s a matter of two people who’ve grown a part, allow them to handle it. You’re denying both parties the opportunity to learn life lessons if you try to ‘fix’ the situation.

Don’t tell your niece and nephew how they ‘should’ feel. You have no business ‘shoulding’ all over your niece and nephew. They have every right to feel angry, confused, pissed off, sad, etc. Give them a break; their lives have been turned upside down thanks to their parents splitting up. Allow kids to process their feelings in a healthy manner. Telling them how to act or how they should feel will backfire on you.

So…Will you stop being an ass of an aunt and or uncle for the sake of your niece and nephew? Will you let them experience their feelings? Will you allow them the decency to express themselves, the good, bad, and ugly?

If you don’t back off now, you’ll push your niece and nephew out of your life for a little while or for good. You probably didn’t think about that consequence. Remember the law of cause and effect states that for every cause there’s an effect, for every action there’s a reaction.

You can either be a loving and supportive aunt or uncle or you can be an overbearing bully. The choice is yours.

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  1. Ms Jones says:

    My parents went through a horrible divorce when I was 13 years old. Thank goodness for my aunts, uncles and grandparents. They were the only ones who seemed to be in my corner. All my parents did was fight and put me in the middle of their battles. Truly disgusting, and I appreciate the support of my extended family, who did not ask me to take sides. My parents stressed me out more than enough.

  2. Amandah Blackwell says:

    Sadly, most parents are wrapped up in their own dramas and egos to see the damage they’re doing their child or children. I’m glad your extended family supported you during your parents divorce. Kids need support because it’s a stressful time, especially if you don’t know where you’re going to live.

    Thanks for stopping by MisticCafe! Be well…

  3. The tone you’ve used in this article sounds like you believe everyone who wants to help their sibling and nieces and nephews during a divorce is an asshole, you failed to say anything about helping infant who don’t understand what’s going on just that they didn’t see their daddy/mommy all day, and you’ve said nothng about what if your sibling’s soon to be ex is also considered a loved one in your family.

  4. Amandah Blackwell says:

    Thanks for your comment.

    The article is written based on my experience; my niece and nephew were teens not babies. But I understand your point because some who get divorced have infants. And yes, people need understanding and compassion. But sometimes that doesn’t occur straightaway because of how one feels in the moment.

    Unfortunately, when kids have an absentee mom or dad, it affects the family. For example, grandparents may now be responsible for providing for their grandchildren because the mom or dad or even the “former” in-laws [other grandparents] don’t help because they’re mad that their former daughter-in-law or son-in-law gets sole custody or if the kids [teens] choose to follow mom or dad] — this may be taken into consideration by a judge. All of this strains the family, from finances to relationships.

    Divorce may affect children in more ways than one, from low self-esteem to drug and alcohol abuse [if they’re older], and more. Teens especially can do without interference from aunts and uncles. Keep in mind that unless you lived in the home, you don’t know what really happened.

  5. susan mckenzie says:

    my brother and his wife divorced 5 months ago and did not know till today – a sister was only one who knew and did not tell any of us – we live miles apart and get on with our lives. Huge shock and was worried about all of them as no idea where brother was. Rang ex wife and explained and said sorry and we are there for any support needed . took no sides but passed on love and care and got brother’s address and tel. He will not speak to me but sent abusive texts saying we just wanted to gossip about him and did not care about him – not true – is it best to leave it ?

  6. Amandah Blackwell says:

    Hi Susan,

    Thanks for your comment, and I apologize for my late response.

    Based on what you wrote, my suggestion would be to leave it. You offered your support, and your brother knows that. When he’s ready, he may reach out. If not, you can’t force him to do so. Send him positive and healing vibes every day and maybe visualize the situation as being resolved. But don’t get attached to the result. Remember, everyone has free will and can do what they want.

    I hope this helps! Have a blessed day!

  7. TornFamily says:

    I have preaty much have to distance myself from not only the SIL but my own brother, mother, step-father, and father. I have nieces who are under 10 that I love and want my own 9 year old to still have contact with. But due to my brother and SIL divorcing, it is getting nasty. I can’t even get through a conversation without trash talk from one person or another, which I refuse to listen to from anyone. Course my family saying to not have any contact with SIL, SIL contacting me to pass messages which I have already told I’m not playing messenger. I’m pretty much without any family because I won’t take sides. And honestly angry at them all for being selfish and not considering the kids are still family. My own daughter wants to see her cousins, her cousins want mine over but none of it can happen because of adults.

  8. Amandah Blackwell says:

    I’m sorry that you’ve had to distance yourself from your family and that you’re stuck in the middle. I’ve learned that you sometimes have to love people from a distance. Hopefully, the adults will forgive each other and do what’s best the kids.

  9. Janelle Ross says:

    So its hard because i was close to my sister’s ex before they divorced. I love him and his family despite their flaws. After he left her she said none of us could hang out with him and that my 3 year old nephew couldn’t be dropped off at my mom and dad’s house by his dad because she didn’t want us associating with them while. His dad lives in Tulsa where we do so its so easy to get to see my nephew but my sister says no. She lives in OKC

  10. Amandah Blackwell says:

    That’s a tough one. And it’s even tougher because a child is involved. Hopefully, your sister can learn to forgive and let go because it will be the best gift she can give to herself and the family. And who knows. Your sister’s relationship with her ex may improve over time. Now, this doesn’t mean they’ll have dinner together, but if they can be friendly for the sake of their son, it’s a step in the right direction. And if you want to continue to hang out with her ex and his family, maybe your sister will accept it and know that she does not have to do so. Unless, of course, she gets to a point where she can handle it emotionally.

    Again, it’s a tough situation. My sister left my brother-in-law in 2011, and their divorce is still wreaking havoc because of my niece (25) and nephew (22). My niece has depression (took us by surprise) and has been in and out of mental health facilities since 2016; it’s taking a toll on all of us. The “other side” doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to understand what she and we have been going through. Honestly, families suck sometimes because of the drama and messiness. I refer to this as “The Dark Side of the Family.” But as a society, we don’t talk about this. We like to focus on the sun-shiny, rainbow, puppies, and unicorns illusion of families — that they’re supportive and understanding. Not always! But when you’re dealt a hand you have two options: play the best you can or fold and walk away.

    Do the best you can. Maybe sit down with your sister and have a conversation about you wanting to hang out with him and his family. The quicker your sister can heal the better for her and the family, especially her son.

  11. My sister divorced her husband of 19 years and now is furious that I socialize with him on Facebook and like his Facebook posts. He’s been my brother in-law for 19 years, am I supposed to divorce him too?

  12. Amandah Blackwell says:

    Hi, Kevin.

    Thanks for your comment!

    It’s amazing how divorce impacts the entire family. If you have a good relationship with your sister’s ex-husband, you can choose to continue it.

    Through my experience, I’ve discovered that even though my sister divorced her husband of 20 years, he’s still ‘attached’ to the family because of my niece and nephew (they’re older). He may not be physically around, but the “essence of him” still lingers. And quite frankly, it takes two to make a marriage work. Blaming the other person doesn’t work. What does is owning one’s part in the relationship as well as looking at the ‘shadow of side’ of a divorce, which can shed light on the situation.

  13. Hello Amandah,

    After a restraining order, my brother and his wife divorced. I felt sorry about it since I loved my niece and my sister in law. Because of this order, my brother was not allowed to have any contact with his ex and unfortunately with her daughter. This was supposed to last two years and as I did not want to cause my brother nor my sister in law/niece any further problems I decided to keep distance, I mean, only concerning their divorce and legal situation but I always wanted to keep contact with my niece and let her know that even if her parents are divorced she could always count on me and the rest of the family.

    I just did not know how to do it legally since unfortunately, it seems that their divorce took away my right to see her or even talk to her on the phone. What can I do to try to make contact with my niece? I do not what to blame no one but just let her know we are still here for her and that we have missed her too much.

    Thanks for such a Site and any advice!

  14. Amandah Blackwell says:

    Hi, Tomas.

    Thank you for sharing!

    How long ago was your brother’s divorce? Who has custody of your niece? If your ex sister-in-law has full custody, you may not be able to see your niece because it will be to her mom’s discretion. If the divorce was years ago and the restraining order lifted, you may consider reaching out to your ex sister-in-law to ask if you could see your niece. However, you’ll want to tread lightly since there were other legalities in play, i.e., the restraining order.

    You may have to give it some time before you can see your niece. I don’t know how old she is, but if she’s in her teens, she may reach out to you.

  15. I found this article because my husband’s brother has decided that he must step in and “try to solve” my husband’s conflict with his ex-wife. My husband has been divorced for 7 years. We’ve been together for 5, married for 3 years, so I played no role in the divorce. Ex-wife was remarried by the time I met my husband.The ex-wife exhibits “borderline tendencies” according to my counselor and recently decided that my husband and I spend all of our time with the children talking about how much we hate her (this isn’t true, we don’t talk about her at all when the kids are with us). She recently tried to prove in court that my husband says bad things about her in front of his kids and enlisted his brother for help. My husband’s brother – who rarely contacts my husband – agreed to talk to my stepson to find out why he didn’t want to come to our house. When my husband found out, he told his brother he was hurt by this and asked him to stay out of the issues with the ex wife. My husband follows a parallel parenting approach due to years of bullying and abuse from his ex wife. His brother told my husband that he felt he “had to get involved” because my husband “doesn’t talk” to his ex-wife. The brother only knows what the ex wife told him, also, this is all about the ex wife, not the kids. My husband gets along fine with his kids. I’m not even sure how to approach the brother after this. He’s never talked to my husband about what’s going on with the kids, but somehow speaks to the ex wife about it and believes everything she says? My husband has told me that his brother was not close at all to the ex wife when they were married and used to always ask my husband why he seemed so unhappy all the time. It’s so mind-blowing to me that his brother would try to undermine my husband in this way and then say it was my husband’s fault that he had to intervene.

  16. Amandah Blackwell says:

    Thanks for your comment! I’m sure many people can relate to your situation.

    Maybe you, your husband, brother, and the ex-wife could attend a counseling session. If not, know that you and your husband are doing the best you can, especially for the kids. They have enough to deal with it and shouldn’t have to deal with adults (seems like the brother may need to get his own life) who may be lashing out because of one reason or another. Focus on your family and taking care of the kids. 🙂

    I hope your situation resolves itself soon!