4 Ways to Help Your Adult Child Through a Divorce
Divorce is challenging – even if you aren’t the one going through it. If your adult child is facing a divorce, you might have strong feelings about their situation, as well as concerns. However you feel about the divorce itself, the important thing to remember is that your child needs your support. Divorce can be stressful, expensive, long, and life-altering. Even if the divorce is for the best, it will still be a struggle for your child. While they go through this tumultuous time, the best thing you can do as a parent is to offer nonjudgmental support and love. To do that, try to devote your energy to helpful, applicable tasks that your child will find invaluable.
In order to provide your adult child with the type of support he or she needs, consider following these simple tips throughout their divorce.
1. Listen To Their Concerns
Everyone accepts support in different ways, but usually the best way to help your child is to listen to them. Going through a divorce is extremely challenging and your child is likely worried about facing your judgment or criticism. Listen without judgement and give them space if that is what they need. Ask your child what you can do for them. Give them the option to ask for help and let them ask for the kind of assistance they need. However, keep in mind, your child might just want a shoulder to cry on, and sometimes that’s enough.
2. Be There for the Grandchildren
If your child has children of their own, do what you can to help out with childcare, school pick-ups, and anything else you are available to assist with. Your child will have a lot on his or her plate, including court dates, meetings with the divorce attorney, meetings with their spouse, not to mention the normal day-to-day tasks that come with being a parent. In order to free up some of your child’s time, offer rides or babysitting whenever you can.
Also, providing your grandkids with emotional support during this confusing time could be invaluable. Sometimes kids need to talk to adults other than their parents about what they’re going through, so make sure they know they can come to you with any concerns or problems. You might also try taking their mind off of the turmoil at home by planning a few fun outings, like an ice cream date, a day at the park, or a day trip to the beach. Of course, always seek approval from your child before you take your grandchildren out.
Be careful, however, not to discuss details of their parent’s marriage or the divorce with your grandchildren. This is something for their parents to decide when and how to do. Just let them know they are loved and will always be cared for.
3. Encourage Communication and Understanding
Reducing conflict during the divorce process is in everybody’s best interest, if possible. Not only will it help decrease your child’s stress, it could help speed the divorce along and make it much easier on their children. If there are children involved, contentious divorces also often result in difficult co-parenting relationships. If appropriate, encourage your child to be civil and work towards equitable solutions, instead of trying to “win.”
Of course, there are sometimes difficult circumstances where this isn’t possible or the best course of action. For instance, if there are issues of abuse, addiction, or financial dishonesty, negotiation may not be possible and could result in the divorce going to court. In this case, your child will need even more of your support.
4. Respect Your Child’s Boundaries
It is easy to get caught up in the moment, and it might be difficult to take a step back and hand over the reins sometimes. However, as a parent, it’s important to recognize when you’ve overstepped. Helping your child is all well and good, but make sure you don’t take control of their divorce or constantly “armchair quarterback” the process. Evaluate the big picture and make sure you respect the boundaries your child has set for you. While you have valuable advice to give and you can be an asset when it comes to helping your child through this difficult time, knowing when to step down is crucial. Your child is an adult, and you need to allow them to make their own decisions, even if you do not always agree with them.
Contact McKinley Irvin at our Oregon office to meet with our divorce lawyers to discuss your options.