Should You Keep Photos of Your Ex After a Divorce?

published Feb 13, 2018
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(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Breakups are hard. Scratch that. Breakups are awful. Not only are you faced with the grief of the loss of a partner, you’re left with all the mementos of the relationship—photos and other visual reminders—to figure out what to do with.

But what to do when the reminders of your failed relationship are still relevant to other people, most specifically, children? We asked Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist-slash-Divorce Mediator Antonia Di Leo for her advice on how to handle photos post-divorce, and she had lots to share. Read ahead for her surprising insights on whether or not to keep photos of your ex around.

Is it a good idea to hold onto pictures after a divorce?

“Holding onto pictures is definitely a personal preference,” Di Leo explains, “but one that should be thought about thoroughly. Ask yourself why you want to save these pictures to determine if they are actually worth keeping.”

How important is it to keep old photos up around the house for children to see?

“Keeping pictures up really needs to be thought about in a variety of ways.” Says Di Leo, “You need to think about the age of the children, if the divorce was amicable, what kind of pictures you will hang up and why. Age is important for the children in terms of their cognition of the reality of the situation; a young child might have hope you will get back together and it may be confusing for them. An adolescent might have mixed feelings which is why speaking with them about hanging up pictures is important. If they do not want to speak to you then speaking with a professional is usually recommended.”

Any suggestions for displaying photos of exes after the divorce (for the kids’ sake)?

“Open communication to ask the child if they would like a picture in their room is a nice gesture if the child would like it.” Di Leo explains, “The parent has to understand the relationship between the child and the other parent to ensure it is a mutual decision.”

(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)

Any advice for displaying photos of newly blended families (after remarriage)?

“Displaying photos of the newly blended family should be a happy time for the family,” says Di Leo. “The parent must also consider the child’s feelings and discuss the pictures. Younger children (ages 5-12) can help pick out the photos so they will feel part of the process. If an adolescent child is opposed to this, professional counseling should be taken into consideration with an understanding that the parents are still the ones making the final decision, to ensure unity between the parents, but consideration for their feelings as well.”

Any additional tips for parents unsure about keeping photos of an ex around the house after the breakup?

“[They] should always evaluate their intentions and understand how it will affect each member of the family,” explains Di Leo, “including the ex when they pick up the children. In order to not give anyone false hope or bitter feelings, communication surrounding this topic is a must.”