One of the many realities of getting a divorce is knowing that you will eventually have to tell your children. After all, ending your marriage is a life-altering and emotionally challenging event for the entire family – especially your kids, who are often confused, scared, and possibly blaming themselves. But does having this conversation get easier with adult children?
We often hear this question because many parents expect things to be a bit more emotional and delicate with small kiddos. So, naturally, they can be slightly thrown off when their adult children react similarly.
And more often than not, the child’s advanced age leads to more opinionated reactions:
Just a few of the psychological effects of divorce on children of any age include:
- Low self-esteem
The rule of thumb with telling your adult children that you are getting a divorce is to treat the conversation with the same level of sensitivity and respect and be willing to go the extra mile. Below are a few helpful tips:
Do not wait
If you delay telling your adult children that you are getting a divorce because you are too afraid and would rather sweep it all under the rug, you run the risk of them finding out by other means. There is also a higher likelihood that you will destroy their trust in you and your spouse. This is a surefire way to make an already stressful situation worse. So as soon as you know that divorce is the answer, sit your adult children down and talk.
Tell them together
Even if your divorce is set up to be a nasty, contested case, your adult children did not choose for this to happen. They deserve to hear from both of you. Breaking the news together avoids confusion, maintains trust, and keeps them from choosing sides. This is also a great exercise in learning what it will take to co-parent and sustain healthy relationships once the divorce is final. You will need to work even harder once the divorce happens for the benefit of your adult children.
Be prepared for multiple conversations.
Just because you think you covered everything in the first meeting does not mean additional questions or concerns will not come up along the way. This is especially true with adult children, who will continue to process what is happening and think of different questions down the line. Maintain open lines of communication and be prepared for anything.
Plan ahead and keep it simple
While you may think that you know exactly what needs to be said, the odds are high that you will stumble over a few things and even get too caught up in your emotions or your adult child’s reactions. This is where planning ahead is critical. Choose your words carefully ahead of time and be clear that even though mom and dad will not be living together anymore and that the path ahead might seem scary, you will always be there for them. Speak to them as adults, and do not feel like you need to get into too many details unless you feel it is appropriate for the situation. I highly recommend obtaining professional guidance from a counselor before you talk to your adult children about your divorce.
Let them know what changes to expect
Depending on your family dynamic, certain things may not change at all for your adult children. Or the changes will be too small for them to notice. In other situations, a lot will be different, especially if your adult children still live at home. Be upfront and honest, and give them a clear picture of what to expect.
Take your time
Give this conversation the time it deserves. Do not plan to talk to them when anyone is limited on time. Difficult conversations take time. They will have questions that will not be easily answered, and they will likely want to talk about everything and need to be consoled. Meanwhile, you will need time to share your feelings effectively.
Tell them it is not their fault
Your adult children will believe they are somehow to blame for their parent’s breakup. That could not be further from the truth, so tell them that. Reiterate it again and again and again. You must tell them the decision to divorce has nothing to do with them. Apologize for everything that is happening and stress that it is not because of anything they have done.
Do not point fingers
Be kind, honest, and sensitive when discussing things with your adult children, regardless of who is to blame for the divorce. Do not play the blame game, avoid making yourself look better than the other parent, and do not use anger and resentment to get your point across. Telling your adult children that you are getting a divorce is difficult enough, so do not fuel the fire by letting your emotions take the wheel.
Be prepared for a ton of questions
The questions will likely come fast and in bunches. And because your children are adults, they will have more complex questions than what you expect from a young child. So be prepared to show grace and patience. Not all questions need to be answered, and you should gently redirect questions that you do not feel comfortable answering. Also, be prepared for lots of tears and maybe some anger. This is not something you should get upset with your adult child about. Remember, you are the reason this is happening. It is up to you to pour love into them.
Do not promise them the world
When you feel guilty about turning your kids’ world upside down, it can be easy to promise them all sorts of nice things to make it up to them. Doing this does not necessarily solve anything; it only masks what will still be a new way of life for the entire family. On top of that, you may not be able to deliver on some of those promises. Instead, promise them that you will always be there for them no matter what happens, and be upfront about the difficult road ahead.
Call Nelson Law Group today!!
If divorce is the answer, you need a trusted advisor to guide you through each stage of your divorce. That can help you deal with the fears that naturally come with that. We work diligently to achieve a result that ensures you receive what you are entitled to as you move forward onto the next stage of your life. The Nelson Law Group brings nearly two decades of experience in family law to each and every case.
Give our knowledgeable staff here at Nelson Law Group, PC, a call if you have any further questions regarding this or any other issue. Our staff is always available. Give us a call today! For more information about Brett A Nelson, click here.
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Source: Nelson Law Group