"If your adult child believes that you hurt them in some way, you do not get to decide that you did not for them. They are adults."
When a family ends, the lines of communication are often blurred. When it occurs for a child, one or both parents may begin to use the child as a medium of conveying messages to one another, and while that is an ineffective and dangerous way of communicating with your co-parent, it cultivates the notion in your child that you trust them with important information and that you are willing to talk to them about something serious.
When that child also is an adult, that is incredibly important.
Confiding and sides
Confiding personal and legal issues in children of divorce is not beneficial when they are child-aged, but when they are adults, as long as it does not pit them against one part over another and cause emotional issues, it can be a decent way of creating a dialogue.
In many instances, adult children of divorce are asked to choose sides, because they do not necessarily have an obligation to either parent. They are not relying on either parent for food, shelter, or any type of sustainable living. They are interacting with their parent by choice.
The emotional bag
They already have their own thoughts and feelings about their parents’ relationship and are not motivated by any sort of financial incentive to support one parent over another. They have their own lives and their own finances to worry about.
However, they still are left holding the emotional bag regarding what their parents’ marriage meant to them, as well as the emotions that their parents may be going through after the divorce is finalized.
This is a time of transition for the parents, and as adult children of these parents, you are better equipped to handle the emotional fallout. This connection can allow for a deeper relationship moving forward.
However, some feel unprepared in this situation. They might find themselves being alienated by one parents’ behavior or the communication may be better with one parent over another, causing them to shorten the ties with the less communicative parent.
Sometimes, it may be the doing of the parent. Some parents believe that because a child is an adult, that they do not have to bounce their feelings regarding the divorce off of them.
However, not seeking an adult child of divorce out during or after the experience may inadvertently alienate them.
This type of parental alienation can be dangerous, because the adult child of divorce may learn that behavior and alienate their future children, according to Psychology Today. This cycle does not help the communication patterns or behaviors of anyone involved.
This is part of the problem for many adult children of divorce. Because of the fact that they were not under the same roof as their parents during the end of the marriage, they seem less inclined to offer their own thoughts about the manner, sequestering themselves off and invalidating their own opinion in their own mind.
They do not see their lack of expressed opinion as problematic, but without the communication coming from both sides, neither side is able to depict a clear picture of their thoughts and feelings. This can lead to negative opinions forged and communication cut off altogether with their adult children, as well as their adult child’s family.
These parents often begin to lose hope. By being cut off from contact, they start to think about how short life can be and how much time they may be missing with their children and possibly even grandchildren. They may give up attempting to fix what is broken, which is the wrong decision.
Do not give up
It is vital that you never give up trying to repair your relationship with your adult child of divorce. Giving up on contact is a sign to your adult child that you are giving up on them. You need to express remorse and regret for what they hold against you and vow change, in who you are as you move forward with who you want to be.
Even if you did not necessarily do anything wrong, it is important that you decide that admitting fault and rebuilding your relationship with your child is more important than a personal need to be right. If your adult child believes that you hurt them in some way, you do not get to decide that you did not for them. They are adults.
It is more important for you to reestablish that relationship and create a bond. When it comes to adult children, they already are making their own decisions about how much of their life they let parents in on, as is. With divorce in the mix, it can be hard for a child to move their relationship with their parents into adulthood, when they are not in the same place or not experiencing the same relationship that they previously had when the child lived with them.
However, just as it is vital for a parent/child relationship to develop its levels of trust and respect, so is it vital for adult children of divorce and their parents develop boundaries and lines of communication, in order to sustain healthy, mindful relationships moving forward.
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.