Like their divorcing children, parents have to grieve. Experts in marital and family relations compare the stages of divorce grief to the stages of death grief. Following the initial shock and denial, there is a healthy period of mourning leading to acceptance and recovery. You may think that if you could just understand the reasons for your child’s decision, you would not feel so low. However, your child may have shut down and not ready to talk about the marital problems.
Looking for Reasons
Maybe in your case you know exactly why your child is seeking a divorce. A spouse has an addiction problem, is abusive, is a serial womanizer, or has taken a lover. Perhaps over time, you will discover the reasons. Or perhaps you never will. In the meantime, the best advice is not to look for answers while you are still in the dark, but simply to provide support.
A Barrel of Blame
A Gallon of Guilt
Understandably, a child’s divorce can cause a certain amount of residual anger to surface in embittered parents who never resolved their own marital issues. It is much healthier if parents can work together instead of finding fault with one another and widening the breach. Your kids don’t need more fallout.
The Parental Knee-Jerk to Fix It
One therapist explained that counseling is not a safety net. It is an opportunity for self-growth, a chance for individuals to understand each partner’s personal agenda, to look at the power struggles, the defense mechanisms, and other negative behaviors that are causing strife in the relationship. It’s a process, not a quick fix, to rebuild a marriage – which may or may not be possible (assuming rebuilding is still possible). You can suggest that they go for counseling, not push.
Parents as Saviors
Do as I Say, Not as I Do
This article is edited and excerpted from the book YOUR CHILD’S DIVORCE: What To Expect — What You Can Do © 2006 by Marsha Temlock. Reproduced by permission of Impact Publishers, P.O. Box 6016, Atascadero, CA 93423-6016, www.impactpublishers.com. Further reproduction prohibited.