Adult Child of Divorce: the importance of how parents behave

For an adult child of divorce, the relationship between his or her parents is of big influence on his live. If parents get along and keep seeing each other after the divorce, it is a good thing for the child. However, some divorced parents keep on fighting. They tell negative stories to their child of divorce about the other parent. Sometimes they do not want to see them any more at all. This can bring an adult child of divorce in a difficult situation.

My parents refuse to be in the same room together

Nancy's parents (18) broke up 9 years ago. Since then they did not see each other again. They refuse to get together. Even worse, they do everything they can to avoid each other. For Nancy this is a painful experience. It does not stop.

Stuck in the middle

Nancy visits her father frequently. Her mother always tried to ask how her father is doing.

In the beginning, she answered the questions straightforward. When it became obvious to Nancy that her mother did not want to see her father ever again, she started to feel unconfortable. By then she was too young and not assertive enough to respond to the unfair position her mother has put her in.

Choosing one above the other

When Nancy's father had been kicked out of the house by her mother, because he had an affair with his secretary, Nancy was very angry at him. She did not want to see him.

After a few week-end visits however, she realized that her father was a nice person too. Of course he should not have betrayed his wife. What Nancy understands now, is that the marriage of her parents has never been good.

Time heals

In Nancy's case, her father felt broken free from an unwanted life. He was capable to start another life with somebody else already before the separation. Her mother though had always expected to marry once in her life and stay together until death.

Her religion and her social environment put a lot of stress on her. She felt ashamed and she needed much more time to get over it. Finally, when she had moved to a different city, she was able to let go the negative feelings and to think about a positive future.

Special events

Do you remember the special day when you graduated at high school? You felt proud and your parent were probably there to share it with you. Nancy wanted both her parents to be at her graduation. Together.

Until then, however, Nancy's parent had never been in the same room since the divorce. On her birthdays she was mostly with her mother. Only on a few occasions with her father. Holidays were spent partly with her mother and partly with her father.

Earlier efforts of Nancy to have both parents at a special event had not been successful. She had kindly and politely ask her mother if she was willing.

For her graduation, she took a different approach. She had been very clear to both of them: she told them to be there. That she needed them. If they let her down, there should be serious consequences. It worked. Before that day, her parents had been very much focused on their own position. They suddenly realized how important they are for Nancy.

What to expect

Your parents do not get back together again. Especially the younger children of divorce dream of their parents restarting their relationship again.

An adult child of divorce, for example when he or she marries, might expect the perfect wedding. They expect their divorced parents to dance with each other in the evening.

Adult children of divorce must be realistic in their expectations. Child counselors tell an adult child of divorce to be selective. Do not fight for every special event to have both of your parents be present. Every year you'll celebrate your birthday.

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