"Your questions and concerns will be addressed, but starting off on the supportive and comforting right foot will help you be there for your child in the long run."
Watching someone else go through a divorce can be hard. We, as a society, wish we can do more when people we have an affinity toward are going through the experience. Seeing others we care about struggle with losing someone they’ve vowed to love and care for for the rest of their life, or even watching them try to process the hurtful decisions of their spouse is enough to send us rushing to their side for support.
It is even worse when that person is your child.
Parents are often asked to be the steady hand in the way that they support their children. However, when a child is going through their own divorce, the emotions of the family are all over the map. Due to the time spent with a child’s spouse and the nature of relationships, families can often find themselves mourning the loss of the relationship for their own purposes, according to WebMD.
The reaction to the news can often set the tone for future interactions with your child, according to Focus on the Family. Chances are that the first people being told the news of the divorce are not the parents, according to the Chicago Tribune. This means that encouraging counseling, a separation period, or reconciliation itself, is probably not the avenue you would want to take.
The first step for a parent should be to circle the wagon and support your child emotionally. There are a lot of questions and concerns that need to be addressed, but parents need to understand that for your child, admitting that their marriage is over is going to be one of the most draining conversations they will have experienced in an already-taxing time in their life. Your questions and concerns will be addressed, but starting off on the supportive and comforting right foot will help you be there for your child in the long run.
This change will become a big part of their life during this transitional period, so it is important for your child to know that they have you, as parents, in their corner. Many parents develop a sense of powerlessness toward the situation. Families can often lose their innocence when there’s a divorce, according to a report published in The Huffington Post.
The range of emotions involved does not end when the decree has been finalized. Alimony, division of property, custody, visitation, and child support issues all pop up, and these can all cause your child a great level of distress that you, as their parent, will wish to take away. However, it’s important that you support your child, as opposed to living this experience and taking care of everything for them. In this moment, you need to be a haven where they can find comfort and refuge, not where they can receive a status report about how the events of their divorce are going.
That being said, figuring out a way to be a positive role model without stepping on your child’s toes is the best case scenario. That is easier said than done, but controlling what you can is important. Gauge how your child’s divorce may affect your other children and their relationship with their siblings.
Divorce does not exist in a vacuum, so creating the healthy dialogue between siblings can foster stronger bonds. Also, dialogue between sibling and parent is a good way of strategizing ways to comfort the child experiencing the struggles of divorce.
Issues of blame
Placing blame can be a tricky road, best left avoided, according to Divorce Magazine. Divorce is often caused by active decisions and faults within the confines of the marriage, and the perception of marriage itself is subjective, depending on the individual.
Part of the issue also stems from a view of whether or not the child is worthy of the support that their parents are giving them, especially if they are the ones at fault in the marriage.
This thought process could divide parent and child during a time in the child’s life where they already are being divided from their own family unit, making everything significantly worse.
Part of the human nature of the family dynamic is investing in one another, and in situations that involve grandchildren, it can make the situation even more challenging. Many grandparents believe that in situations involving their child’s divorce, they will lose touch with their grandchildren, due to the extent of the division within their lives.
One thing to keep in mind is to avoid badmouthing the opposite spouse, especially in front of the grandchildren. As much as it might make you and your child feel better, it does the grandchildren no good to hear about the perceived faults of an individual, who still is their parent. Parental alienation can be incredibly damaging and counterproductive to a child’s natural development.
Unless they specifically ask you not to, it’s important for you, as parents, to support your child in court, when issues of custody and visitation arise. Courts may require character witnesses to depict how good of a parent your child is, and if you are chosen to be one, answer the questions that are asked.
While it may seem like a good idea to be as positive and supportive as possible with your child, the courts require that honesty to make fair decisions between two individuals that have to learn how to co-parent their children effectively throughout the course of their lives. If a grandchild were to ever find out about a damaging testimony against one of their parents, that could damage your relationship with them and extend the distance created in the divorce even further.
The end of the situation doesn’t exist for these grandchildren. Their family is forever divided, and it’s up to the adults in their lives to provide the stability necessary to grow and develop. They need a sense of normalcy that their parents will try to provide in the next chapter of their own lives.
As the grandparent in this scenario, you may not agree with all of the decisions your child or their ex-spouse make in the way they handle their business or how they maintain their balance as co-parents, but it’s important that they know that you respect that it is their decision and their life. They need to live it the way they wish to live it, but it’s your job, as their parent, to catch them if they fall.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.