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How to handle the holidays as an adult child of divorce

“You never stop being a parent.” It is a phrase that is often repeated by parents to let their children know that they will always worry about them, that they will always care about the choices they make and will always support them – even after they turn 18.

Hey parents, guess what? You never stop being a child either. You may be well into adulthood, but the actions of your parents still affect you too. With “gray” divorces (spouses divorcing at or near retirement age) on the rise, more adult children will be spending this year’s holiday season with their parents separated for the first time.

While family is great, dealing with family members can be stressful. Dealing with parents going through a gray divorce can be particularly stressful for adult children.

For some children, it can seem as though their parents forget that they are in fact, still parents. They tend to treat their adult children as friends. Mom and dad complain about one another, sharing details they may have kept to themselves had they divorced while the children were still living at home.

How do you navigate this difficult situation? You have a few options. Below are a couple of suggestions from a certified relationship coach and daughter of divorce:

  • You’re an adult, host your own holiday: Try hosting the event this year. You can invite your parents into your home and play a little role reversal. Let them know that “under your roof, you are in charge.” If they can agree to play nice, you can continue to include everyone for your family’s sake, especially if you have children of your own.
  • Use a bit of humor to let your parents know that their words or actions have consequences: When your parents say things that drive you crazy or bad-mouth the other parent, write it down on a piece of paper. Put the paper in a box and give it to them with a note that says “return to sender.” Your parents may not realize how much they are saying or how those words affect you until they see them all in one box.
  • Go on vacation: Yes, this is an option. Whether you want to take a break over just one holiday or make it an annual event, it is your choice. The beauty of being an adult is that you get to set your own rules now. You might not ever get your parents to agree to disagree, but you do not have to put up with it either.

At The Shapiro Law Firm, we want everyone to have a wonderful holiday season this year. We go to great lengths to help our clients achieve their goals in family law matters and provide the support they need to make the legal process easier.

Visit our family law website if you have questions about filing for divorce in Dallas, Texas.

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