Written by Doctor G

Ask Doctor G: Do I Keep Pictures of My Ex Up Around the House?

I get a lot of questions from parents (and grandparents, too) about handling situations when there is a divorce or separation. It’s a tough adjustment for a family and you want to make it as easy as possible for yourself and the children. Last week in my inbox, I received a question about how much of your ex you should leave around the house.

Dr G – My question is in regards to creating this environment while at the same time being super sensitive to the children involved. Having been a child of divorce and having young children when I divorced, I know how traumatic this time can be. What would your advice be for replacing family (mom, dad, kids) pictures in the public places of a home? I feel like couple or family pictures in a woman’s bedroom are appropriate to replace, and I also feel like it’s appropriate to let the children have any family pictures in their bedrooms. But, what about living rooms, family rooms, dens, etc.?

Anonymous in NC

Dear Anonymous –

Thanks for your email. I agree with you, separation and moving on is important. But respecting the kids’ relationship with the other parent is crucial.  So, a couple of suggestions:

  1. Allow kids to keep any photos in their rooms that they would like.
  2. Talk to kids (over the age of 3) about choosing a few photos to stay in common areas – especially at first, which leads to my last suggestion.
  3. Ask your ex to take some pics with the kids (without you) that you can put up in your home. This shows the kids that the home is as much their space, but allows you to not have to look at family photos that don’t seem authentic to you anymore (if that is how you feel). Once these photos are available, you can change out the ones in the common area for them.

The truth is, divorce ends a marriage, but should not end a child’s family. And I hope these suggestions allow you to respect that need in your children, without feeling hurt. Boundaries matter, and so does love.

All the best,
Dr. G

Do you have any important parenting related questions? Type your question into the box on AskDoctorG.com. Also, be sure to follow me on TwitterFacebook and subscribe to my YouTube channel where I address parenting challenges from teen dating to manners.

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