With more and more people over the age of 50 deciding to divorce, the chances of adult children experiencing divorcing parents has risen statistically over recent times. This scenario can be a surprisingly challenging time, even when legal experts are already involved, papers have been signed and houses have been moved out of. If you have found yourself in this position with your parents, we’ve put some tips together on how you can cope with some of the obstacles you are faced with.
Be kind to yourself
Don’t assume that a parents’ divorce only affects young children. As an adult, your parents’ divorce can have a profound effect on you emotionally. You may feel hurt, and betrayed and experience feelings of grief. You may begin to look at the past to see if there were signs of this coming and you may wonder if there were problems earlier on that you didn’t spot. You may also feel guilt or even relief – there is no one emotion when it comes to divorce and you may experience all of them on the spectrum over time. Turning detective and over analysing can become exhausting and it won’t change the situation. Be kind to yourself, speak to friends who know about your circumstances, as well as ones that don’t. This will help you gain a new perspective that will help you cope more with reality.
Be prepared for new relationships
There are many different consequences of divorce including a change in the dynamic of relationships. If one of your parents is in a new relationship, allow yourself some time to get used to new people as this can feel alien to begin with. One of your parents may not have moved on as much as the other and you may find yourself in a more supportive role. In some cases, you may feel as if you are somehow betraying the other parent if you are friendly to a new partner. Give yourself time, stay open-minded and remember that new connections and relationships don’t form overnight.
Accept that your role may change temporarily
Over the years, you are likely to have become used to a relationship with your parents borne out of their lifelong care for you as their child. When divorce comes into the equation, this synergy can change for a while and you may feel yourself becoming the confidante for one or both of your parents. You may also find that you are supporting your parents practically too, helping them to move home, find new furniture or even have them live with you temporarily after divorce. Although you love your parents and want to be there for them, new developments can be unsettling and particularly challenging if you are supporting both and feeling compromised. Try to avoid turning into a go-between, and don’t get embroiled in disagreements or become angry as this can create further conflict and be detrimental to you. Instead, talk to your parents and explain to them how you are finding things difficult and let them know how they can meet your needs, as well as how you can be there for them.
Even though you are an adult it can be very disconcerting to see your parents go through a divorce and in some ways, underneath all the practical problems on the surface, for you, it can feel as if you are letting go of your childhood. Speaking to a counsellor who handles matters of divorce and grief is often a good first step in helping you cope with new situations and knowing what to be prepared for. If you need to hire a legal team then Wiselaw is a good place to search all the family law solicitors in your area, and it’s free to do so too.