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How Do You Deal With Your Child’s Divorce?

As you would deal with any hardship through which your adult child may be going: with compassion and wisdom.

Bear in mind from the outset that for some, divorce is a crushing blow from which they never fully recover. No matter how prudently you proceed, some people cannot/will not receive the help they need. Blaming yourself in such situations makes you more collateral damage of the divorce, and that benefits no one.

As others who have responded to this question have noted, you need to know the limits of how much (and how little) you can and should involve yourself.

Part of what makes being a parent of a child going through divorce so difficult is not knowing what your child needs from you and when your child needs it. But when in doubt, it is better to err on the side of reaching out to offer consolation, encouragement, and a helping hand. It’s easier on you and your child to dial back your level of help to suit the circumstances than it is to increase it (that way you reduce “the too little, too late” risk).

Some people withdraw while going through a divorce. They stop interacting with their friends and family for many reasons, most often embarrassment, shame, despair, depression—often a combination of them all. Yet they need to stay connected with their friends and family during these times most of all. Not smothered, but connected. Don’t be surprised if they reject your overtures, but don’t quit. Deep down (even if they aren’t always conscious of it), it’s a comfort (sometimes even a lifeline) to know their friends and family are aware, that they care, and that they stand ready to help.

Some people do just the opposite and become ludicrously self-centered (if they weren’t already) and feel as though going through a divorce entitles them to endless supplies of sympathy and charity. They need love, of course, but often need it in the form of regular doses of tough love interspersed with the shoulders to cry on and occasional financial support, etc. Thomas J. Stanley, who wrote The Millionaire Next Door described “economic outpatient care” (EOC) as the practice of an affluent parent providing money to an adult child. While the occasional “hand up” is not the same as a recurring “hand out,” the dangers of EOC are that it gives recipients a false sense of financial security. They come to depend upon EOC as “regular” income and never become self-sufficient. The same principle applies to emotional support. The best help (indeed the necessary help) one can give an adult child going through divorce is help that contributes to that adult standing on his/her own two feet, both financially and emotionally/psychologically.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

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