I am a student and for two years I have been living in a different city from the one where my parents live. When I went home Christmas, my parents announced to me that they are divorcing. Even though their relationship was on and off at times I never expected them to get divorced at the age they now are. Both my parents are 55 years old. Talking to my mother, she told me that the divorce is her choice, but without telling me clearly what has happened. She told me something general like problems had existed for years but it wasn’t the right time for her to make the decision. However, I can assume that there is something new in my father’s life, since I already know it is not the first time.
I have been very angry with them, both of them. With my father, who once again disrespects his family, and with my mother who decided to divorce at a time when I need the support of both, since I’m still studying!
I don’t know how to help them rethink this decision. Do you think there is anything I could do?
Recent years have seen an increase in the number of divorces of people in the 50s and over, which means that more and more adults may have to deal with their parents’ divorce. In this case, one would expect divorce to be handled more easily by older children.
It seems, however, that even adult children often suffer and are affected by their parents’ divorce. Many feel they have been living a big lie their whole lives, others still feel the burden of responsibility for their parents’ decision to stay together against their will when they were still children. This often makes them feel responsible for the ‘weaker’ parent and feel obliged to support him.
The adult child may also feel insecure about the financial situation of the family from the point of divorce onwards, especially if he has not yet established himself in a profession.
All this change in family life causes great upheaval and conflicting emotions ranging from frustration and worry to guilt and anger.
Something similar may be happening to you. However, it will help you cope better if you understand that divorce is a choice of two adults who have every right to make their own decisions about their lives. This means that if your father and mother have decided to no longer be together, it would be a good idea to accept that, without trying to keep the family together. You can express your opinion or wishes to them, but that’s about it.
The fact that you feel angry is completely normal in these situations. Behind the anger can be hidden intense insecurity, fear, and worry about the future. And it makes sense to be dominated by these kinds of emotions since you still haven’t found your own career path in life.
However, the fact that your parents are divorcing does not mean that they will stop caring about you. It doesn’t mean they won’t still be there whenever you need them even if they can’t be there together anymore.
Therefore, it would be a good idea to try to talk to them openly, with understanding and without blaming or judging them. Express your concerns and ask them to explain how they envision family life going forward. Talk to them about the fact that you still need their financial help and ask them in what ways they can support you until you find your way.
A divorce does not mean that the family ceases to exist, it just changes form. And in the new situation that is created everyone will have to adapt, in order to continue their lives with the least possible losses.
Stavroula Tsoutsa is a Certified Holistic Professional Life Coach, ICF ACC, Certified Heartmath Coach/Mentor and Trainer, and Certified Points of You Practitioner.