Does the divorce of your child affect you?

Divorce is never easy. There are pages and pages of resources on how to help your child through your divorce, but what happens if it is your child that is getting the divorce?

While there is thought that the divorce only affects the people going through it, in truth it can impact on the lives of the divorcee’s parents emotionally and financially. Do they need money to go to court or buy out their house? Do they need to move back home? There are a thousand questions but one thing is clear; you are just what they are going to need to get through this situation.

After your child has told you of the situation, how do you react? Marsha Temlock, author of Your Child’s Divorce: What to Expect – What You Can Do, told WebMD that some parents of divorcing children can “badmouth the son-in-law or daughter-in-law, jump to conclusions about what soured the marriage, or immediately try to seize control of the crisis and end up making their own child too dependent on them in the long run”.

Here are some tips that can help you through this trying time.

It is and isn’t about you

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While the relationship wasn’t yours, you helped build the idea of what a marriage is to your child and set the standard for being an adult. It is perfectly natural to feel some guilt for your child’s divorce; some feel that it’s even their fault. While this might be a feeling that you have to come to grip with; you need to do it with your child as you help them come to grip with the situation. Your child is an adult; they made choices, you are there only to help them through this difficult stage in their lives and not to shoulder the blame.

The Blame Game

It is natural to be angry with either your child or their ex-spouse and wants to lay blame for the divorce. The situation is already complicated enough without blame thrown around. While you might think that it’s helping your child feel better by insulting their ex, you need to remember that your child loved their spouse and if there are children involved you will have to continue to accommodate the ex-partner. Best to keep things as civil as possible, you don’t want to alienate anyone.

Be the Support Team

There are going to be a lot of emotions flying around and you will need to be the calming presence that helps your child through this. You will need to practice active listening, remind them that you are there for them, leave out the “I told you so”, and help them get the professional counselling if they need it.

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Support the grandchildren

No one is going to get hit harder in this emotionally time than the children of the divorcing couple. As the grandparents, it’ll be your job to give your grandkids all the emotional support that they will need during this time. You might even want to babysit them more often so that their parents have room to do their emotional healing.

Financial support

Divorces cost money; there is no way around that. Assets need sorting, lawyers paid for, on top of the bills that they already have. If you are in the position to offer financial support, then that’s obviously going to make things a bit easier but shouldn’t be necessary. They are still an adult that need to run their lives. Offer controlled support. If a considerable amount of money is given, then consider making a repayment schedule. Instead of having them move back in, consider helping them find a smaller place or find tenants. Perhaps your budget is tight and you can’t provide financial support; you should not feel guilty about not providing financial assistance. You can offer them financial advice and work out a budget for them. Besides, a shoulder to cry on is worth its weight in gold any day.  

It is going to be a trying time for everyone but hopefully these tips will make it a bit easier.

Have you had to help a child through a divorce? What advice would you give to those about to do the same?