Talking to parents about their divorce
No matter how old you are, your parents’ divorce can be devastating. When they’ve been your role models, their split can shake your whole foundation. Talking to your parents about their divorce can seem like an impossible task.
Even though their decisions affect the entire family, only your parents know what’s right for them. The more you can try to empathize and understand, the better. That’s why talking to parents about their divorce is essential—you can listen compassionately and work toward your acceptance of the situation. Open communication may also help ease your worries about what the future will look like.
Talking to Parents About Divorce: What do you say?
One of the first steps in talking to parents about divorce is to let go of the idea that they are only “mom” and “dad.” This decision was made by two adults in a relationship. During your talk, remember that they both deserve love and happiness. Here are a few tips to help guide the conversation:
- Form your thoughts before talking with your parents. Go into the discussion with some calm ideas about what you want to say. Your parents’ divorce may have come as a surprise to you, but your reaction does not have to be highly emotional. It’s important to be sensitive and share your feelings about the divorce respectfully. It may help to write down your thoughts so you remember what you want to say. This also gives you time to consider how your words will impact your parents.
- Try to keep the “he said/she said” out of it. Talking about facts and feelings, rather than digging up conversations from the past, will help relieve some of the pressure from your parents. You don’t have to agree with your parents’ decision. You also don’t need to know all the details that led to the divorce.
- Touch on the future. Your biggest question probably revolves around what’s going to happen in the future. Write down your questions. Is spending the holidays together important to you? Is your wedding seating arrangement stressing you out? Are your children still expecting to see both grandma and grandpa cheering them on every Saturday at soccer? There’s no harm in asking these questions. Talk to you parents to find out if there is a way for all of you to continue to function as a family in certain situations.
- Ask if collaborative divorce is an option. If your parents are willing to work together to solve divorce issues, you may want to mention collaborative divorce. It can be a great way to create a mutually agreeable outcome for the whole family and help avoid the traditional courtroom battle.
Talking to parents about divorce can be uncomfortable. It’s okay to put the conversation on hold until everyone is ready. You know your parents best, so think about timing and tone before you begin talking.
Remember, It’s Not Your Relationship
One of the biggest questions to ask yourself is when it’s appropriate to get involved and when you should maintain distance. One way to do this is to consider what you would want from family if you were the one getting divorced. Consider seeking advice from a counselor to help you learn to set (and respect) boundaries.
Instead of focusing solely on your parents, take the time to nurture your own relationships. Divorce can bring up powerful issues and feelings. Even though your parents are going through a difficult time, you owe it to yourself to maintain happiness in your life.
When your parents are struggling emotionally you may not be able to give them all of the support they need. Consider as well that if you are struggling to accept your parents’ divorce, you may have a difficult time “being there” for them as they go through the process. If you come to the conclusion that they need emotional support that you can’t offer, consider that you (or they) benefit from speaking with a professional qualified to help you come to terms with the situation.
Is Collaborative Divorce Right for Your Parents?
There are major decisions made during a dissolution. Collaborative divorce can help both parties do it in a respectful and supportive environment that keeps the drama low and your parents out of the courtroom. This type of divorce allows your parents to work with attorneys, communication specialists and financial neutrals to help them sort out their divorce and gain skills for their futures.
The Communication Specialists at Best Legal Choices are qualified professionals who have extensive experience in helping people express their fears, their hopes, their needs and their objectives as they go through the divorce process. They can help your parents learn to say what they each need to say and to hear what they each need to hear. The collaborative divorce process can also include a Child Specialist – a professional who brings the voice of the children (even adult children) into the process so your parents know what you need from for the family to successfully navigate their life-after-divorce.
If you want to learn more about collaborative divorce, contact a professional at Best Legal Choices.
Licensed for over 21 years in Arizona, Nevada and California, Craig Cherney is a different kind of attorney. He truly listens and solves problems rather than merely identify risks.