How to Help Your Child Through a Divorce
A divorce is a legal process between two married people with the intent of ending the marriage relationship. It's also often referred to as the dissolution of marriage. This judicial decree resolves issues of child custody, the division of any assets and whether there will be any spousal support or alimony. Once the divorce process is final, then the parties are no longer legally bound and, as such, are free to remarry. In case your child goes through a divorce, it is good to be prepared. In this article you will learn about how to help your child through a divorce.
How Common Is Divorce?
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the divorce rate in the U.S. is 2.9 per 1,000 people. This figure represents a decrease of 18% between 2008 and 2016, though we do have to take into account that marriage rates are also declining.
It is thought that the millennial generation (anyone born between 1981 and 1996) are waiting longer to get married. This then means that they are generally more established and stable when they do, which then leads to less of a risk for divorce.
How Can a Senior Parent Help Their Adult Child Through a Divorce?
Sadly, the figures do still show that a huge number of couples will go through the pain of divorce each year. And that pain spreads out across the family who will provide support during the difficult period of transition.
There are several things senior parents can do to help their adult child cope as they go through the divorce process. We've provided more information on some of the ways that support can be provided.
Resist the Urge to Pass Judgement
By the time that you learn about the divorce, it is likely that your child has been living with the situation for some time. You might know or think that you know the reasons for the break-up, but it is unlikely that you will ever be made aware of the whole story.
Inevitably, there will be two sides to the situation, and you do need to take great care not to begin criticizing or raising doubts about the child's spouse. Reconciliations do happen, and in that situation, your revelations could come back and haunt you.
As much as you want your child to be happy, you do have to remember that this is not your problem to fix. The couple may have already tried to make things work, or they may have decided that the breakdown of the relationship is beyond the point of saving. Being able to listen without passing judgment, combined with unconditional love, will help you and your child through the difficult times.
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How to Help With Finances
Many people find themselves struggling financially, both during and after the divorce process. Many expenses such as the mortgage and rent will be unchanged even though the household income could be half of what it was previously.
Not every family will be in a position to be able to help financially, but inviting your child over for dinner a few times a week or buying a few extras for them when out shopping for groceries can make all the difference.
If you are in the position of being able to offer financial support, do consider in advance if there are any conditions surrounding that assistance. Be clear in your communication as to whether the funds are a gift or a loan. It may feel uncomfortable having that conversation, but it will avoid tough discussions should there be any misunderstandings.
Take Up Babysitting
When children are involved, there is often a whole extra level of complexity and stress to the divorce process. Your child may feel overwhelmed with managing the home and children by themselves. Finding time to process what is happening may feel impossible.
Offering to collect children from school can be an enormous help as your adult child finds ways of balancing their new responsibilities. Likewise, providing transport to after school activities could be the key to maintaining some normality for the youngsters.
Sometimes, having an evening or even a few hours where they can gather their thoughts is all that is needed. Being able to plan or just relax without any child care commitments can make a huge difference in their ability to cope with change.
Providing a Safe Haven
Before you even consider offering a safe haven, you need to consider the boundaries that will need to be put into place. While you may desperately want to open your home to your child and potentially their children, you do need to consider your own wellbeing. Having lively children around the house can be fun for a few days. However, when that extends to weeks or even months, it may be overwhelming and can actually harm the relationship that you have with them.
The decisions you make can also be the difference between enabling problems to carry or empowering your child to move their life in a new direction. Your home may be large enough to provide space for an extended family, but do consider if this delays your child's progression to the next stage of their life. Providing assistance to search for affordable properties may also be of more help.
Divorce is rarely an easy process to go through, even when it is an amicable decision. This can then mean that it becomes challenging to support adult children as they go through the process. Don't forget to reach out to friends and extended family so that you too receive a little extra support.