It’s not uncommon for a divorced parent to tell me they wish their daughter or son would get over their divorce and move on. The motivation is usually loving concern. However, there are also those who wish their adult children would get over it so they can get on with their own life—guilt free. After all, is that too much to ask?
On the other side, a chief complaint of many adult children of divorce (ACOD) is they can’t get their mom, dad, and step-parent in the same room without the fear or World War III breaking out. Why can’t everyone behave for just one hour? Is that too much to ask?
It might be too much to ask
Part of the healing process for ACOD’s is accepting that their parents don’t (and some won’t) understand what we experienced regarding their divorce. Surprisingly, this includes parents who are ACOD’s. To overcome this, some therapists suggest a time of sharing and asking parents questions about the divorce can help with this. We’ll look at that idea in the future, but for now we must realize that our parents’ lack the knowledge and/or the incentive to understand us may not change.
But just as important to the healing process is understanding our parents’ point of view. While this may seem sacrilegious, grasping their perspective can help us avoid unrealistic (and possibly even unfair) expectations. I remember how annoyed I was with my mother when she was crotchety with my dad and stepmoms. I was well into my adult years before I pondered how I’d be if my wife left me and remarried.
Would it be like high school or college when you broke up and your ex started dating someone else? Did you want to be chummy with their new squeeze? Imagine facing them all the time—like at every family event.
Yes, Mom was clueless to the divorce’s impact on us. But only in the last few years have I appreciated the sacrifice and strength it took her to just “be crotchety” while breaking bread with the enemy instead of hitting them with a brick.
The answer lies with us
So is it too much to ask for us for a little more grace with our parents’ humanness? It’s not easy—I know. But it’s not our job to change hearts. That’s God’s job. It’s our job to submit to Him so He can do a healing work in our hearts. Also when we submit to God, His love can flow through us and touch our parents—which also does a healing work in our hearts.
Being misunderstood can be painful for both sides. God knows that: the biggest misunderstanding in history killed His Son. The Bible also tells us that “love covers a multitude of sins.”1 I encourage you to push through the hurt of misunderstanding and allow God’s love to bring healing to you and your parents. That is not too much to ask.
11 Peter 3:8. NLT
When kids become endangered species by Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig cartoon
Freedom by John Moore
Bible with Cross Shadow by David Campbell