Helping Your Adult Child Through a Painful Divorce

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Painful DivorceChildren dread the prospect of their parents splitting, but rarely do they consider the possibility of their own divorce impacting their parents. But the Centers for Disease Control report a current divorce rate of 3.6 per every 1,000 Americans in any given year, and the possibility for an adult child divorce should never be discounted. Unfortunately, when divorces do occur between adult children, parents may only make matters worse by subjecting their grown kids to guilt trips and misplaced advice. If your child is in the midst of a messy divorce, strive to be a source of comfort, not one of judgment.

Helping Your Adult Child Through a Painful Divorce

Resist the Urge to Cast Judgment

Your child may already be dealing with extreme guilt related to his or her marriage. The last thing you should do is make snarky comments or speculate on what either member of the divorcing couple could have done differently. Keep in mind that good intentions can come across as criticism, particularly if you make the mistake of comparing your child’s relationship with your perhaps more successful marriage. But if you’re divorced, WebMD warns that attempting to compare the circumstances behind two broken marriages could be just as damaging. When you talk about the situation with your child, devote most of your time to listening, only stepping in with advice when it’s actually solicited.

Offer Up the Comfort of Your Home

Even as an adult, your grown child likely finds some level of comfort in returning home for a brief reprieve. This is particularly true when divorce comes into play. Between the potential financial strain and definite emotional strain, your son or daughter may require a safe haven for the immediate future. Of course, an adult child’s move home can be fraught with tension — particularly when preceded by a nasty divorce — so be sure to set up groundrules prior to the move. This may include, as TLC suggests, asking for a specific amount of monthly rent money or setting a timeline for moving out.

Assist in Obtaining Legal and Financial Protection

The average divorce is accompanied by a whole host of legal and financial hassles; these only multiply when the proceedings are less than congenial. Be prepared to assist your child with extensive paperwork, including everything from name changes to the setup of a new, individual bank account. If your adult child’s former significant other proves particularly malicious, identity protection tools such as Lifelock may be a necessity for maintaining decent credit. After all, as AARP points out, financial targeting of former spouses is far from unheard of in the aftermath of divorce. If money is tight for your child, consider following Lifelock on Twitter for free tips on how to protect credit.

Encourage Therapy for Emotionally Painful Splits

Once housing and finances have been stabilized, it’s time for your adult child to address his or her mental health. Divorce can be stressful in and of itself, but your child may also be left haunted by the difficulties immediately preceding the split — especially if infidelity or domestic abuse was involved. Encourage your child to participate in weekly or biweekly sessions with a qualified psychologist. If you have grandchildren, they may also benefit from therapy. Psychology Today recommends family therapy involving both parents, plus their children when the former spouses are on speaking terms. In less friendly scenarios, single parent therapy can still prove effective.


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