When your Parents Get Divorced
Life Coaching: After the Divorce, 9 Ways to Deal with your Parents’ Breakup
In order for children to thrive after divorce, they have to develop good interpersonal skills for dealing with conflict and change.Stephanie Fast’s parents’ marriage ended when she was a poised-for-success 24 year-old grad student at an Ivy-League college. The divorce challenged her assumptions about the world and shook her self-confidence. “I was pretty consumed by the loss of family security, andI didn’t know how to support both my parents when my own support was eroding,” she said.
There was a lot of confusion and pain as family members tried to sort out what it all meant. Our skin was so thin that it became all but impossible to communicate without damaging each other,” Fast said. We just didn’t have the skills we needed to get past unspoken hurts.”To avoid further injury to their relationship, fast and her mother withdrew from each other. Then her mother hired a life coach to help her work through the fears, misunderstandings and rejections she felt from the divorce.
Several years later, at a turning point in Fast’s own life, her mother reached out to her. I felt likeI had a whole new mom. She was almost unrecognizable,” Fast said. It wasn’t what she said, it was who she was and her way of being. She was completely at peace.It was like mom unleashed. That created security for me to trust that I could talk with her about things we couldn’t talk about before.I knew that together, we could handle anything.”
Fast was so struck by the change in her mother, that she hired a coach to help her. Like her mother, she found the process of working with a coach life changing. Today, Fast is a certified accomplishment coach. Some of her clients are children of divorce. Here are some tips she shares with her clients.
NINE WAYS TO RECREATE YOUR LIFE AFTER YOUR PARENTS’ DIVORCE
1. Get support for the emotional pain.
Divorce is tough stuff. Your ability to be aware of your anger and sadness about your parent’s divorce will increase your ability to have great joy. Seek help through therapy, your spiritual community or divorce care groups. Then, partner with an ally who supports your goals and can help you plan for what’s ahead rather than grieve what’s behind.
2. Give yourself an emotional oasis.
If you find yourself constantly talking/thinking about the divorce, give yourself the gift of a whole week of not thinking/talking about it. On the other hand, if you have bottled your feelings, give yourself a week to talk and think about it and notice how much love and support is out there for you.
3. Play with new emotional possibilities.
Notice whether anger or sadness happen naturally for you. Practice feeling the opposite of what comes naturally. Notice new choices or reactions that become available to you, as a result.
4. Invite yourself to become aware of your judgments about what the divorce means.
Some say divorce is the worst thing ever. Some say it’s a relief to see an end to the fighting parents. Notice your own judgments or lack of them. See each of them as valid. Then, choose to shift any disempowering thoughts, if only by one degree.
5. Become aware of the family mottos about the divorce and choose an empowered motto for yourself.
These mottos pack a punch because they’re full of judgments and they kill possibility for seeing things in a different way. For example: “They never should have gotten married,” can become “They did the best they could.” “It’s about time” can become “They had some years of happiness that brought me here.”
6. Release your parents from fault.
Viewing life from a right or wrong perspective gives you only two choices. If you want to have a relationship, you have to get past the limitation of who’s right and who’s wrong. Instead, look at what was missing, incomplete or disempowering and address each of those. You now have infinite possibilities to create ways to get those needs met.
7. Give failure less significance.
We get fascinated with failure. Failure is not a defining moment, it just is. Failure can become a teacher if we empower it to become a teacher. So, decrease your fascination with why this all happened and increase your capacity for creating what’s ahead. Accept that relationships will have breakdowns and that the breakdowns are powerful teachers.
8. Rewrite your past.
As you decrease your fascination for messes, increase your commitment to creating what you want.One exercise for doing this is rewriting the story of your past. We don’t just have to accept” things. Shift your thinking about it. This will enable you to generate compassion for each of the characters in your story and come from a place of wholeness in yourself. As you write, notice all the times you say, That’s just the way it is.” Notice all the is’s” and consider alternative interpretations. Then, rewrite your interpretation of the past to serve your future.
9. Don’t have hope.
Have intentions. Hope waits for something to happen. Intention creates it. You get to choose your own adventure. Young adults especially become empowered when they find a way to make a difference in the world based on their values rather than reacting to what’s around them.