So when it was time to make that important call to my mother I was a nervous wreck. I was worried that my mother was going to be so disappointed in me. I surely wasn’t going to talk to my Dad, so my plan was to talk to Mom and have her to tell Dad. I decided to start the conversation by informing Mom that I was probably going to be moving again and then explain the reason as being "because we were going to be getting a divorce. '
After I got it all out, to my surprise Mom didn't give me a lecture about how we should stay together regardless of what was going on. Instead she said, “You girls don't have to to put up with the things I had to in my day and time.” She listened to what I had to say and then reminded me that she raised us to be able to take care of ourselves and said I would be alright on my own. She then went on to ask where I was moving and how soon.
Unfortunately I had to have this conversation with my mom twice. The second time we divorced, (yes, I married and divorced the same husband twice) it was even harder to explain but once again, Mom showered me with unconditional love. As I now experience my own children getting married, I hope I never have to have that conversation with them. My husband and I are praying for them that each one of them finds love and happiness and that they do it right the first time.
So what should you do if your child informs you that they are struggling in their marriage and possibly heading towards divorce court? Here are my suggestions:
- Listen - You may be the first of the last one your child talks to take the time to listen to what they are really saying. It is okay to ask questions but you want to truly hear them. Rephrase what they have said to you so he or she will feel understood. Even though you may be disappointed, try to contain your emotions and hear and feel the emotions of your son or daughter.
- Don’t Take Sides – It is easy for you to believe that the other spouse is the problem. This is not the time to say how you never liked their choice of a spouse in the first place or “I told you so.” Stay neutral if your son or daughter constantly complains about their spouse. Be careful of what you say about their spouse especially if you have grandchildren. As parents, we feel our loyalties can get in the way of us being rational.
- Counsel – Ask if the marriage is salvageable or if they have attempted to get help. Ask if they would like your assistance in finding resources to help save the marriage. Recommend they speak with someone who can give them wise counsel. Share your own stories about how your marriage or relationship survived the tough times. Counsel in a way that is not overbearing or too preachy. Remind them that you will be praying for their situation and for both of them.
- Offer Support – Let your child know that you will always love and support them no matter what. Offer to help in tangible ways such as assisting with the children if the couple needs some time alone to work some things out or if they need some time and space to be alone. Helping financially may be in order but don’t assume too much responsibility for your adult child. You may even offer them a temporary place to stay if that works for your household or assist with legal fees, if appropriate.
- Offer Encouragement – Continue to offer unconditional love and be there for them. Keep in touch on a regularly without intruding too much. Because your child and grandchildren will experience all types of emotions, stay on the positive side. Remind your son or daughter that they can still have a bright future despite going through a divorce. Suggest Godly individuals who can mentor or counsel them.