Most people think of divorce as a traumatic event for the couple getting divorced, and especially for any children affected by the split. However, divorce can cause emotional upheaval for the parents of the divorcing couple, too. Parents are often in charge of helping their divorcing child pick up the pieces both emotionally and financially, while dealing with their own feelings about the change in their family.
If your daughter is getting a divorce, you may feel upset and confused by the sudden change, especially if you had a close relationship with your daughter's partner. Family gatherings, holiday dinners and other shared occasions will no longer be the same, and you might be mourning the loss of the relationship. You may be struggling with bitter feelings toward your child's former partner, especially if you feel she was mistreated. All of these negative feelings can be difficult to deal with when you are busy helping your child with the practical aspects of the divorce by providing financial help or a place to stay, but it's important to remember that your daughter and her ex are both responsible for their own choices, and that your daughter and your family can heal over time.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
It's hard to get through any difficult emotion if you don't acknowledge what you're feeling, so the first step in getting over your child's divorce is to accept whatever emotions you're actually having. Whether you feel angry at your daughter's ex for breaking up the marriage, angry at your own child for doing something to cause it or mournful that someone you thought of as family will no longer be part of your daily life, you can start the process of getting over the divorce by admitting it to yourself and accepting it. No matter what your feelings are, the most important thing is to give your child the help she needs.
Ask How You Can Help
Your child may need financial support or help with childcare after a divorce, but she also needs your unconditional love and emotional support. Even if you think she made a major mistake or handled the situation poorly, she will still expect you to be loyal to her. The best thing you can do is to ask her what you can do to help and then show her that you will be there for her no matter what, even if you do not condone all of her choices. Helping her through this difficult time will help you get over what happened, too, as you deal with your own feelings and work to help your daughter deal with hers.
Forgive and Move On
Some divorces are so bitter and so filled with conflict that the hard feelings can last for a lifetime. However, if you hold on to negative feelings of anger and resentment, you will never be able to accept the situation and move on. You may be in contact with your child's ex for many years, especially if you're helping with childcare. If possible, try to cultivate a healthy relationship with your child's ex. If you can't be friendly, at least be polite and don't say anything bad about your child's ex in front of your grandchildren. Over time, you may come to feel that your former in-law is still part of your family although the relationship has changed.
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Scott Thompson has been writing professionally since 1990, beginning with the "Pequawket Valley News." He is the author of nine published books on topics such as history, martial arts, poetry and fantasy fiction. His work has also appeared in "Talebones" magazine and the "Strange Pleasures" anthology.