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Dealing with the Legacy of Divorce for Adults and Grown-up Children

16 Nov

The legacy of your divorce will leave a mark on generations to come, what will yours be?

Bride dancing with her Dad

If you are divorced, you won’t want to endure another and if you grew up with divorced parents, you certainly don’t want the same fate for your family. Studies show that adult children of divorce have double the risk of separating in their own marriages. The truth is that it’s hard to come out of the shadow of divorce if you don’t deal with the emotions and behaviour at the time, it can leave you wired to recreate the past. I also don’t think it’s ever too late to deal with this, which is why I’ve also included guidance for adult children of divorce.

Here are my tips for parents to leave a good legacy:

Celebrate your marriage

Don’t let the end of your marriage take away from what you achieved and experienced together. Chances are you both went in with good intentions and had good times with holidays, special occasions etc. and even created little people you love. Celebrate what you achieved and be proud of how you have grown. It will help you learn your lessons and move on.

Own your divorce narrative

It is common at a time like this to take on the social assumptions that divorce is painful and a war between two people. This misconception is played out in our media and society all the time and it is far from the reality you have to accept. This is your divorce, you write the narrative and decide how this is going to go. You can choose to do it better and come away as two whole people rather than two battered halves.

Avoid a hard rebound
Fears of being unlovable or never finding love again might push you into looking or finding a new relationship before you are ready. Resist the temptation, remain grounded and take the time to heal so that you can build relationships based on love, not fear – it will serve you in the long run.

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Coaching,  books, online resources,  courses, support groups and memberships – there is so much help available for you out there. Clearly you recognise this by being a member of Fresh Start, so well done. This is your way to make sure you can heal, accept and move on successfully.

My top tips for adult children of divorce:

Overcoming your conditioning and hurts from the past, whether from your own relationship or that of your parents, is not easy. It takes a lot of reflection, self-awareness, discipline and forgiveness. Here are my tips to help you:

Acknowledge your past hurts and shift your perspective
Understanding your pain and where it comes from will allow you to come to terms with the damage left by your parents’ divorce and help you change your perspective. It does not mean you have to condone the behaviour, it simply means you have an understanding that allows you to reason with it so it doesn’t hold you back.

Take responsibility for your actions
It’s always easier to put the focus on the other person in any relationship, but the truth is we are responsible for our own actions and outcomes. Once you accept that, you instantly put yourself back in control. To make any change, focus on what you want and what you can do to make that happen – what kind of partner do you want to be, how do you want to treat yourself and others and set your goals and take action.

Pick a partner who doesn’t trigger your childhood defences
Our subconscious mind which controls our beliefs, actions and behaviour is conditioned throughout childhood. As a result, we all come to adulthood with our own belief system and baggage. To know your triggers, own them, and also choose a partner who does not trigger our defences is a great first step to creating a strong relationship.

Examine your expectations

When you start a relationship you might be more focused on your dream of how a relationship ‘should be’ rather than the reality of how it is. We are all human, no one is perfect, so if you spend time looking for your ‘perfect partner’ it will be a long quest that will leave you disappointed.  Instead, look for a partner who shares your values, someone who you can be yourself with and go from there.

Getting help

If necessary don’t feel afraid to get help - whether it’s therapy, coaching or reading tips in self-help books. It doesn’t matter,  because believe me  – as someone who has been there – the rewards of healthy, happy, respectful relationships make it worth it!

Good luck everyone, and always feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

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