Divorce is rarely an easy thing for the children, no matter their age. While those still living at home often have to deal with being ferried between parents and at times living with a new stepparent, dealing with the dissolving of your parents’ marriage as an adult is not easy either. There are at least five things you should do as an adult if your mom and dad get divorced.
Avoid Being Caught in the Middle
As an adult, your relationship with your parents is likely different from your childhood relationship with them. You may have become more of a friend or confidant rather than just their child. Because of this, it can be easy to get caught in the middle. One or both parents may try to complain to you about the other one. You may feel like you have to take sides. They may even try to use you as someone who relays messages to the other parent. With the exception of abuse or other related issues, you will likely want to try to maintain a healthy relationship with both parents. This means letting both of them know that you are not going to listen to them badmouthing the other one as well as telling them that you are not taking sides.
Boundaries may include the sort of things they can discuss with you. For example, you may want to hear about how your mother is having a great time dating a new guy, but you want her to keep the intimate details to herself. Boundaries may also include the amount of help you will provide. Maybe you are willing to teach Dad how to iron his work shirts, but you expect him to start doing it on his own after a few days.
Focus on Your Own Life
One of the most important reasons you need to set boundaries is that you need to continue to live your own life. While one or both of your parents may need your support, you should not allow them to make you feel like you should drop your whole life to comfort them or to provide support. Continue to go to work, school, or your other regular activities. Take care of your own family. If you have children, you may need to comfort them, especially if they are close to both grandparents.
Never Make Assumptions About Your Own Relationships
Whether you are married, dating someone, or not in a relationship at all, experiencing your parents getting divorced after twenty years, thirty years, or even longer, can cause you to question romantic relationships in general. Just because your parents got divorced does not mean that it will happen to you. While you may not want to jump right into a serious relationship, you should not avoid finding love either. Take your time, if needed, but when the time is right, don’t avoid marriage simply because you are afraid it will end in divorce.
Seek Help If Needed
Whether you saw the divorce coming for several years or it seemed to come out of nowhere, you may need to see a counselor or other professional to deal with the feelings created by your parents’ separation. Even if you do not feel like you need to see a professional, it may help to talk to a friend, especially if you have a friend who has dealt with a similar situation. Don’t be afraid to express your anger or disbelief. Sometimes, all you need is to get those feelings out in the open.
Of course, these are just a few of the things you can do to help yourself deal with your parents’ divorce better as an adult. Every situation is different, and you may find that some of these steps are unnecessary or unrealistic. For example, if one parent needs added physical support, you may need to move back in with that parent, which may cause you to at least appear to be taking sides.
If you have questions about a New Jersey divorce or family law issue, call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen at (201) 845-7400 for a free consultation.