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Divorce Help | July 29, 2021

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How to Tell Your Parents About Your Divorce - Divorce Help

How to Tell Your Parents About Your Divorce
Jessica Nowicki

When you announced your engagement to your family you were probably met with warm and joyful embraces, champagne toasts and congratulatory smiles. Reflecting on that time in your life now, those elated responses can make it even more difficult to break the news of your impending divorce to your family. What will your mother say, who once sat proudly with tears in her eyes as she watched you say your vows? Will your father react in anger and defense? We never outgrow the desire for approval from our parents.

Unless your parents have disapproved of your spouse from the get-go, they probably aren’t looking forward to learning of this demise. In her book “The Good Divorce,” author Constance Ahrons has identified the most confusing part of a divorce to be the judgment to tell your spouse and your family about the difficult decision. Well, we have gathered some sound advice that will be sure to make this step easier.

Divorce Coach Kirsten Gronning advises couples who are facing an inevitable divorce to try to keep their parents in the loop from the beginning. The anticipation of letting the cat out of the bag can multiply the stress you are already feeling about your divorce, so in most cases the earlier the better. Depending on the current state of affairs at home, you may either want to make the announcement with your spouse or to let them know on your own. If you and your spouse do get along well enough to tell your families, do so – this can demonstrate that the two of you remain amicable, and will reassure your parents that you can each continue on your own paths as happy individuals.

It’s best to plan what you are going to say to each parent. Don’t write a script – you want to be genuine and speak from the heart, but it is good to have some things thought out in case you are bombarded with questions that you don’t want to answer or hot-headed objections that you aren’t prepared for.

If you don’t feel comfortable enough to be frank yet, hint at it from time to time in order to gauge their reaction. Many divorcing spouses are surprised by the amount of love and support that they get from their parents and other family members. You may naturally assume the worst because you have been having such a tough time with the decision yourself and are currently unable to remove yourself from the situation and open your eyes to the way a third party might view it. In reality, many divorcing spouses feel a sense of relief, as though a weight has been lifted off of them, when they break the news because they finally receive the affection and support they were searching for.

But let’s keep in mind that we aren’t all so lucky. While you can hope for a positive reaction, don’t go into it expecting one. If your parents took in your spouse as their own, and built a bonding relationship they will probably feel torn – almost as though they are also going through their own divorce from them – one they neither desired or foresaw. This perception of your divorce can generate feelings of confusion, anger and deception – they might even feel contempt for you. Your parents’ divided feelings between their love and loyalty to you and their adoration of your spouse can be a tough pill to swallow. If this is the case, try not to lash out and lose them completely – do your best to keep a clear head and be patient with them. Just as you have begun the process of grieving your marriage, they will need the opportunity to do so as well.

Your news may be well-received, contested, internalized or publicly discussed. Regardless of what your loved ones have to say, you will survive this difficult time in your life and walk through the doors that your divorce will open for you.

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