Everything You Really Need to Know About Divorce, You Learned in Kindergarten

By Jennifer Winestone, Esq., LL.M. (ADR)

In 1988, Robert Fulghum wrote a book entitled “All I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten.” The mother of a four year old, I am reminded of the lessons I learned in Kindergarten daily, as I bear witness to my daughter’s journey.  As a family law attorney and mediator, I have come to realize that the costs of a divorce (financial, emotional, and otherwise) often depend entirely on the parties’ willingness to abide by a basic Kindergarten code of conduct.  Inspired by Mr. Fulghum’s guidance, here are 10 things you learned in Kindergarten that will determine the course and consequence of your divorce proceedings. 


The Kindergarten Code for Divorce

  1. Play fair and be kind. Your behaviors shape your character - and the kids are watching.
  2. Take Turns and be patient.  These are necessary skills. Master them early. 
  3. Share.  There is only one can of Play-Doh. The longer you spend fighting over who gets the bigger piece, the more your dough will dry up and be wasted.  
  4. Tell the truth. Your contentions will be tested - and the kids are watching.
  5. Stand up to bullies.  Don't become one.   Insist on fair play and resist the urge for revenge.
  6. Use your words. Keep them clean and brief.  No mud slinging.
  7. Start with your “growing food”.  Prioritize and focus on the things that matter most - the stuff you need.  Don’t waste your time and money on empty calories and frivolous junk. 
  8. Feel like having a meltdown?  It's time for a Timeout.  Find a distracting pastime, exercise away some of that negative energy, or take a nap.  
  9. Hold hands and look both ways when crossing the street.  Find a supportive friend, a good lawyer, and a skilled mediator that you can trust.  They will help get you to the other side of this thing safely.  But, don’t go anywhere blindly - get informed and own your choices.
  10. Next year, you will be in a new class. Learn from today, but remember, life keeps moving.  You will get through this - stronger, smarter, and more prepared for life's next challenges.