[F]or years, you kept your family together through hidden conflicts and unspoken conflict. Maybe you knew the day would come when you and your spouse would call it quits. Perhaps you even discussed it. One day, the last child leaves to begin his own life with his new family.
Then you hit them with the sad news. You, the parents, the people who raised him, taught him right from wrong, and prepared him for life, are now divorcing.
How will your offspring respond?
We think that since our children have matured, that they can handle such news after a short period of adjustment. Well, maybe and maybe not.
Children Never Outgrow the Negative Effects of Divorce
Even though adult children don’t depend on parents for upbringing, parents are still part of their family dynamic, and have offered stability in an often confusing and chaotic world. Even as adults, they might see divorce as an assault on their family; they can still experience guilt and depression at what is often an unexpected turn of events–at least for them.
So what are the responsibilities of divorcing parents with regards to dealing with their grown children?
Try to understand what they are feeling. Realize they too are going through difficult times. They may be experiencing anger and depression and may even try to fix your relationship. No matter how your children respond, avoid rushing them through the grieving process and give them time to be upset.
Respect your adult children’s boundaries. During this stressful time, adults may rely on children to get through the ordeal. Remember that your children are experiencing grief, too. They may not know how to help, or they may not know how. And you might invite disaster if you lean on them during your hard time. Consider that both parents may employ the same strategy.
[tweet “Do not bad-mouth your spouse to your child. Your child is not your confidant.”]
Doing that forces your child to take sides, and it could hurt his/her relationship with both parents. They may side with you, then again, maybe not. Always act in the best interest of the family, even if that dynamic has changed due to a divorce. Also too give them the freedom to maintain good relations with both parents.
Do not speak ill of marriage to your kids. Just because your relationship ended in divorce does not necessarily mean the concept of marriage is doomed. Furthermore, don’t plant that thought in your children’s mind. They may be happily married and doing well–don’t let your problems become your kids problems.
Make sure they understand your love for them hasn’t changed. Even though you are no longer married, you are still the same person. Whatever your relationship before, keep your routines and same level of intimacy and contact.
Divorce affects children, even grown ones. Give them space to process your change. It’s a loss for them all the same.
Did your parents divorce when you were older? How did that affect or not affect you?
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