Are you worried how your adult child is handling their divorce, or how they’ll fare after? Scared about the impact all this will have on your grandchildren? No matter how old your children are, you never get over the impulse to take care of them. Here are some constructive ways to help your adult child during divorce.
Don’t try to “fix” problems. Rushing in to take charge will just communicate to your child that they don’t know how to handle their life. This will in turn create conflict, which is the last thing they need right now. Offer your unwavering support and non-judgmental attitude. Pitch in to help with cooking, cleaning, and childcare so your child can take care of divorce-related tasks and have time to themselves to think and plan.
Establish healthy boundaries. You want to be there for your child and grandchildren, but you don’t want to burnout or take on more responsibility than you reasonably can. If your child is living with you during their divorce, before they move in, take time to discuss timeframes and next steps. Are they able to help you out with bills and groceries while they live there? Is there a plan for how long this arrangement will last? What are the “house rules” you would like everyone under your roof to follow? Being as transparent as possible will help everyone adjust and feel comfortable.
Help identify appropriate attorneys. Hiring the right family law attorney is one of the most important decisions your adult child will make in divorce. Lend a hand by offering to research appropriate attorneys. Some things to find out:
- Does the attorney primarily practice family law?
- Does the attorney prefer handling asset/financial issues or child custody issues — or are they experienced in both?
- How does the attorney typically settle a case? (i.e., mediation or litigation).
Share your research with your child by handing over a list of names and how to get in touch, but let them make the decision about whom to hire.
Never bad-mouth the other parent. No matter what your child’s STBX (soon-to-be-ex) did, or how much you loathe them, keep your feelings about them to yourself when you’re around your grandchildren. Their other parent may have behaved badly, but they still make up 50% of your grandchild’s DNA. Speaking ill of the other parent will make your grandchild feel bad, and pressured to take sides.
Manage your own anxiety. Your adult child has enough divorce-related turmoil in their life right now to feel the added burden of taking care of your feelings. If you second-guess their their parenting or how you think they’re managing, you will just add to their stress. To ratchet down your anxiety, try meditating, therapy, or confiding in your spouse or friends. Staying calm and grounded will help your child do the same.