Divorce. A word that you don’t want to think about when you are starting off a marriage. Marriage is supposed to be a commitment until one of you dies. However, things happen and for some, divorce seems to be the only solution. When the couple is childless, divorce is more about separation of things acquired during the relationship. In the instance where children are involved, divorce has much more serious implications. For years, experts have done research and written books about the effects that divorce has on children and how to help them cope. It is understood that children are young and impressionable thus, dealing with a major life change such as their parents divorcing can have huge implications for their social emotional development. With this in mind, many parents (especially our parents’ generation) would stay in unhappy marriages for the sake of the children. They felt a sense of responsibility to their children than to their own happiness.
It sounds noble right? The idea that these parents are toughing it out in order to raise children in a two parent home to some is honorable. But what then happens is that once the children are grown and on their own, the parents decide to do what they’ve wanted to do for years; get a divorce. In theory, it makes sense to do it that way. The children are grown and have been equipped with the proper social and emotional skills to handle such a life change. If they aren’t living in the home, there shouldn’t be as much of an adjustment for them. That’s all theoretical and as we know, in the real world things just don’t work out that way.
What often gets ignored when the offspring of divorced parents are grown are the very real effects it has on them. When the offspring are children, parents try to shield them from what’s happening. They take extra care to not let them know what’s going on. However, in the case of adult offspring, they are now viewed as confidants. Somehow dragging the “child” into the argument isn’t as much of an issue when the child isn’t a child. They’re grown right?
In some instances, there have been family court mediators that have suggested that parents use the adult offspring as mediators instead of going through the system. What that does is put the adult offspring through an inexplicable amount of stress. How do you choose when you love both parents? There may be some cases where someone has done something obviously wrong such as cheat. But even in those cases, the love for that parent is still there and the offspring doesn’t want to alienate that parent. There’s always extra things to consider especially when it isn’t amicable; who gets to come to the kids’ birthday parties, whose house are we going over for the holidays, or how is the other one going to feel if I do this thing with the other? It gets to be a handful.
It’s important if you are an adult whose parents are divorcing, make sure that you assert your neutrality. Make it known to both parents that you still love the other and that you are going to do things with both. Let them know that their stress and disagreements can not become your stress. You are not their confidant, that’s what they have friends/peers for. Your self care is imperative and though you love your parents, you can’t solve their problems for them. Suggest they get counseling or the courts to handle their disagreements. Hopefully, once you all get past the rockiness, you all can do holidays and birthdays drama free.