Your Child’s Divorce

Divorce is fraught with the opportunity for emotional and financial missteps.   I’m not talking about the divorcing couple – I’m talking about the couple’s parents.

What is the appropriate response of a parent to a child’s announcement that she is filing for divorce?  Is it a promise of unlimited financial aid to pay for a pitched legal battle?  An offer to let her move in with you?   How about taking on the care of the grandkids?

Can you rule out the possibility that she and her husband will reconcile?  Think how difficult that next family gathering will be if you jump into the current disagreement with both guns blazing.

No question about it, you are in an unenviable position.

Here’s 5 things you may want to consider for your long-term sanity –

  • Your child is in emotional turmoil.  Maybe the spouse is really abusive and crazy – but maybe your child is, too.   She may not be telling you the truth about a lot of things.  Don’t join the emotional circus…..independently verify the facts.  Don’t pile on with complaints about the spouse.
  • A divorce is a business transaction.  If your child isn’t personally responsible for paying the lawyer and the experts , then she has no incentive to be reasonable.   Possibly you have to guarantee some costs, but don’t give her carte blanche on spending.
  • Yes, the grandkids are of ultimate importance.  If their physical welfare or emotional development is in peril, then you may be justified in actually intervening in the divorce or petitioning for access.  If, however, they are being used as a weapon in the fight between your child and her spouse, then you need to tread very lightly.  You may want to seek some counseling to determine what’s best for everyone.
  • Your child is an adult.  She needs to act like one.  Cut the strings.  Maybe she can move into your house for an emergency shelter, but give her a 2 month limit and then kick her out.  She needs a job.  She needs to live within her means.
  •  Perhaps your child is too passive or emotionally/physically traumatized to deal with the divorce.  You do need to encourage her to do the basics.  She needs her own lawyer.  She may need some counseling or help devising a life plan.  You can be supportive without being domineering.

Remember, you made your own life decisions.  It’s now her turn – she made her marriage, and she needs to make her divorce.