Much is spoken about divorcing parents of young children but less is said about how adults should manage the circumstances around their parents’ divorce. Now that the new no fault divorce laws have come into force, divorce proceedings are arguably more straightforward and more situations with older parents divorcing could be more likely to occur. With this in mind, we look at how you can support your parents during this period of significant change.
Have a conversation with your parents
First step, speak to your parents. If your parents’ divorce has come as a shock to you and one parent has confided their intentions to divorce before reaching out to your other parent, then it’s best to keep your distance from this scenario. In cases where there has been no abuse or violence, encourage the parent to speak to the other and make it clear that this is the fair thing to do while remaining sensitive to their feelings. Remember that you don’t necessarily know all the details and respect the fact that they will have to sort this through themselves.
Be prepared for your own grief
Although it is different to when you are child, when you are an adult of divorcing parents, it can still be an emotionally distressing time. Even if you are not still living in the house with your parents, if you have been brought up with your parents together, then this has likely been the foundation of your childhood which has now been shaken. Allow yourself some time to grieve because this is also a loss to you too and consider reaching out for therapy or counselling.
Don’t become a mediator
Although become a go-between can be tempting or even difficult to pull away from, it’s best to not get in the middle of any conflicts that may have arisen between your divorcing parents. Encourage them to deal with things directly or through a professional mediator. Mediators are trained professionals who are impartial and are trained to guide divorcing couples toward the best resolutions. As their adult child, you may have a natural bias to one of your parents, or towards a certain matter, so getting involved is not helpful to either you or them.
Speak to your friends
If your parents have been together for a long time, it’s likely some of your friends know your parents too and in some cases, that can help them provide the best advice on how to support your parents. Alternatively, speaking to people outside of your close friendship circle can help you find new ways of supporting your parents while also looking after your own needs.
Consider any children involved
If you have children, then you will need to explain to them about their grandparents divorce. When talking to them, consider the level of maturity of the child and what level of detail you need to go into. Essentially, you simply need to explain that although their grandparents are divorcing they will still be present in their lives as they were before. By approaching this, you will be helping your parents indirectly by maintaining those positive relationships.
Although your parents divorce may have come as a shock to you and you are dealing with your own emotions as a result, there are many ways you can provide strong support for them too. By putting yourself in their shoes, addressing your own grief, and thinking long-term about the effects on others, you will be naturally drawn to offering the most appropriate and effective support for your parents.