When an adult child divorces, the situation can send shock waves throughout the entire family. As your child’s parent, you naturally want to be supportive — but you may have a lot of conflicted feelings about the situation.
It’s normal to feel shocked, sad, frustrated and even a little angry. How is a parent to cope?
Here are some tips for dealing with your adult son or daughter’s divorce:
1. Listen to your child with empathy — but don’t assign blame unnecessarily.
Your child may need to come to you for emotional support. That’s fine — but you don’t want to get wrapped up in your child’s emotions. Recognize that there are very few divorces that are one-sided. (In fact, sometimes two very nice people simply just shouldn’t be married to each other.)
2. Don’t badmouth your child’s ex-spouse.
This is important, especially if you have grandchildren. You don’t want to sour your relationship with your former daughter-in-law or son-in-law if you want to maintain a good relationship with your grandkids. (Plus, there’s always a possibility that the couple will rekindle their romance and reconcile.)
3. Offer to take the grandkids for some visits.
Extend the offer to both parties. Let both your adult child and his or her spouse know that you’d love to take the grandkids for visits — and you’ll be glad to watch them while their parents go to their mediation sessions or court hearings. Your grandchildren will benefit from the stability and sense of normalcy you offer.
4. Take time to grieve for your own feelings.
You may be experiencing profound feelings of loss yourself over your child’s divorce. You may genuinely love your son-in-law or daughter-in-law and grieve the fact that you won’t be seeing them on a regular basis in the future or have them in your family. If necessary, seek counseling.
Divorce — like marriage — really is a family event. If your adult child is going through a divorce, however, it’s important to take a balanced approach to the situation.