Divorce is hard on everyone, let’s be real. Children, adults, friends, pets, furniture, everyone. To top it off, if you are over the age of 18, there is this perception that you are adult, so you can handle it better. Umm, no. Throughout my parents’ divorce there were little to no resources (that I found) for someone in their twenties, perceivably ready to settle down, watching their parents’ marriage come to an end. While I was dealing with it, everyone seemed to downplay it, wondering why I was so shattered by this. “At least they waited until you are adult,” they would say. People should really take cover when they say that to me, because I get all sorts of Hulk-angry when my feelings are dismissed.
The perception that just because we are “grown up”, it doesn’t affect our lives, is so damaging. We need our parents just as much. After all, we are making major decisions and starting our own lives. We have never needed advice on marriage, parenting, house hunting, insurance shopping, car shopping, recipes, how to get a stain out, etc., more than we do now!
Validation was key for me, so I want to set the record straight on how we really feel about your divorce now that we are adults ourselves. Sorry Mom and Dad, but this is for a greater good.
1) Our parents think that since we are older they can disclose more details to us.
Please don’t. Just don’t. This helps no one. Just because we are older and can relate more, does NOT mean we should be. Call your best friends, and tell them all the nitty-gritty details.
2) We sort of revert back to childhood a little bit.
Since no one wants to recognize that an adult might be having a hard time with this, we lash out like a child would, to be heard. It’s like that kid in class who figured bad attention was still attention. I do want to mention, although we feel like a little kid sometimes, it doesn’t make it okay to get drunk and run around yelling “I JUST WANT MY PARENTS TO BE TOGETHERRRRR!!!”
3) If you keep bad mouthing each other, we will pick sides.
We don’t want to. But damnit, stop it. Again, leave out the details. We will pick sides with the one that is being less awful. Guaranteed.
4) We start to feel like the parents.
We notice ourselves saying things like, “You really need to apologize, and you shouldn’t have said that to him/her.” We also say things like, “When you go out with your friends you shouldn’t be driving after that many drinks”, etc. Again, not cool. No one wants to parent their parents. Get your shit together, and if you can’t, just put on a really convincing show for us. I know this seems like we are asking a lot, but we always can pull the We didn’t do this card. And we are kind of right.
5) I am supposed to want to get married in the next few years?!
This notion is laughable in the midst of your parents divorcing while you are an adult. Literally LAUGHABLE.
6) Give us time.
Our parents are probably ready to mingle far sooner than we are ready for them to. A little advice, don’t tell us about it. While it is crazy and exciting for you, it’s actually really awkward for us. Call your best friend again and tell them all about it, not us. We are still grasping the fact that our parents’ marriage is over, we are now splitting phone calls and visits to make it all work. Our lives just got a lot harder, so sorry, but I am psychologically incapable of being excited for you right now.
7) Treat the situation where we finally meet your new boyfriend/girlfriend as though we are children.
The main difference here, is yes, we are adults, but be patient and respectful with our feelings. This is mainly meant for the sake of your new significant other’s face. If things go south, I will find them and punch them in the f*cking face, because now I have a heartbroken parent to deal with on top of everything.
8) Don’t be sad when I am not overjoyed at your re-marriage.
It is NOTHING. PERSONAL. But we are going through a lot at this time. You are meshing with a new family, divvying up your thoughts/time/efforts to all sorts of new people, and we are probably less than thrilled about it. Keep in mind, we are past the age of the Brady Bunch family where I will love their kids and we will all live happily ever after. Not saying that won’t happen, but you can’t expect it.
9) Accept that our process is different than yours.
While you are busy re-inventing yourself and having the time of your life, we are over here trying to start ours. Two of our main resources are, for lack of a better word, preoccupied. We are gaining independence for ourselves but from you both as well, as a defense mechanism. We will heal, just at a different time and in a different way than you.
10) Although we may be angry, bitter, sarcastic, and a bit stand-offish, we will thank you someday.
Our marriages may thrive in the places yours failed because we learned from you. The problems that took a back seat in your relationships will probably take a front seat in ours. Now we know how important they are and what will happen if we don’t work on them. We will fight harder, communicate better, and have a whole new perspective because we experienced our parents’ divorce.