As a 26-year-old who was blindsided by my parents separation last year, I wanted to offer you support and share things I have realized while coming to terms with my newly broken family.
To begin with, this not your fault. Kids often blame themselves, but that is not a habit we tend to grow out of.
It is in human nature to often think, “What could I have done to prevent this?”
The answer in this situation is, nothing.
Though we will often end up a casualty of the battles, this is ultimately their war to fight.
Happy childhood memories can still be happy. It may hurt to think back on family vacations to Disney World or when you saw your dad dramatically kiss your mom under the mistletoe at Christmas, but divorce doesn’t mean your parents never loved one another and it doesn’t invalidate those moments.
Be there for your parents, but do not get in the middle. Since you are not a child, your parents may think it’s appropriate to discuss every aspect of the divorce with you. It is important to decide how comfortable you are playing the role of “shoulder to cry on.”
If the divorce is ugly, do not allow one parent to dictate how you should feel about the other. Allow yourself the freedom to form your own opinions and remember, it’s okay to take a breather from a toxic parent.
If you have siblings, lean on them. No one will understand what you are going through right now more than them.
Use this time to connect with and support one another. Answer each other’s calls and texts quicker. Offer up a hug or a chat and try to never judge any of them for the late night drunk, crying phone calls.
Never be scared to love. Watching a relationship you once thought was solid crumble before your eyes will certainly shake even the most hopeless of romantics.
It’s important to remember you are not your parents. It’s okay if you have your father’s temper or your mother’s stubbornness.
A relationship takes two people, so find someone who makes you a better person. If you want it, you deserve a happy, healthy relationship — don’t be afraid to find one.
Most of all, remember that you are still a family. The nuclear family is no longer the norm and it’s okay that yours looks a little different than before.
Though immediately after divorce things may seem like constant chaos, one day the dust will settle and you and your family will find peace.