Advice From the Front Line

advice from adult children of divorced parents

To Parents:

Keep your differences away from the kids so they don’t have to listen to it, and don’t make them make choices or choose between each other and don’t screw with the kids’ minds.

Don’t put the kids in the middle; don’t make kids the jury; don’t make visitation difficult; don’t speak ill of the other parent. Kids don’t care whose fault it is. Don’t blame each other. Each of you is responsible.

Keep your differences private. Don’t let the kids hear it and don’t make the kids feel guilty. Don’t make one be the messenger for the other.

No matter what the cost to you, no matter how much it hurts, it is so important that you not bad-mouth the other parent in front of the kids. Please, be civil in front of your kids.

Get over yourself enough to quit being so selfish. Any two people can get along if they’re selfless enough.

I think it’s important not to say things about the other spouse in front of the children. As a child, I really looked up to both my parents, and when one of them would say something bad about the other, it would put me in the position of agreeing and thinking something bad about the other parent or disagreeing and putting me in conflict with the parent. That’s hard for parents to do, but I think it’s really important.

Put feelings aside so that your kids can have a childhood. Remember that the kids are first. In the long run, they’ll remember whether or not you kept that in mind.

Get along. Worry about the kids, not who gets what money or who gets the couch.

Make sure that you call your kids. Call your kids and be a humongous part of their life.

Just because you do not live in the same house does not mean that you do not need to have equal responsibility.

Always talk to your kids as far as what’s going on and what’s happening. If things seem scary, still tell them how it is; don’t sugarcoat it at all.

Be sure your kids know that the issues at hand are your problem and have nothing to do with them. I don’t think you can say that enough times to a child.

Keep using love words as much as possible, because I think that when some kids go through a divorce they do think it’s them.

Stay involved in your kid’s lives. Don’t move across the country.

Don’t stay together just for the children, because they’re smart. They can feel the tension; they can feel what’s going on around them. And that could be more detrimental to them than the parent leaving.

At the time it might all seem negative, but as I look back I think there were a lot of positive things that happened in my life because of the divorce. Not because they didn’t get divorced.

Get over it and move on! Life is short!

Advice From the Front Lines…
advice from adult children of divorced parents

To Children:

Remember that your parents’ world is falling apart too, just like yours is. That they’re not always going to have their act together like parents should, ‘cause they have so much stress going on.

Don’t blame yourself. If one of your parents is trying to pit you against your other parent, walk away.

Even though it may e difficult, don’t let them use you, catch you in the middle.

Try not to take sides. The decision doesn’t have anything to do with you.

Let people know what you want and need in the divorce settlement.

The fact that your parents are getting a divorce is not an excuse to have bad behavior or let your future fall to
the wayside.

Reach out to somebody – like a school counselor, friend’s mother, someone who wouldn’t judge you. Kids feel judged during a divorce. And, I would tell kids not to feel like they need to repress how they feel, not to hide their feelings. I did that a lot and it really makes it worse. I think things are different now – there are support groups for kids and divorce is more common, but I still think these things are important.

Find some things that you want to do and get involved in them (for example, the swim team).

Don’t be afraid to talk to your parents about what you’re going through.

Talk to friends about it because there are a lot of other kids that are going through it too.

Try to give your love to both parents either way and realize that some of their decisions are (made in) your best interest. You’re not loved any less because you’re not with one parent or the other. In times things will get better. If you have hope, there’s away.

Parents deserve to have love too. They deserve to be happy too. Kids just need to accept that. They need to understand that in time it will be okay, and they need to find strength within themselves to do that. It may seem real tough at times but in the long run, (you) will eventually see that (divorce is better) than being raised in a house where there is not love. But it all goes back to the parents to (help their kids) keep self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth, and to reassure the kids that it is not their fault. It has nothing to do with them.

Try to keep your chin up…Get involved in activities…talk to others about it and don’t hold your anger inside.

You can be happy and successful in your adult years. It is not the end of the world.

Find a friend. I became so isolated, so I think that it would be some encouragement for kids, whatever age, to find somebody to be close to. And whether that’s still one of the parents or an aunt or a teacher or a friend, that it’s so easy to become very withdrawn…. Security, someone that you feel like will be there for you.

It’s not the end of the world. Some people just can’t live together anymore, and it would be harder for everybody if they stayed together.

From “We’re Still Family:  What Grown Children Have to Say About Their Parents’ Divorce,” by Constance Ahrons, Ph.D.

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