Month: May 2015

Grieving and Divorce: The normal ways couples process the end of a marriage

concept of divorce, broken photo frame marriageAccording to the Holmes and Rahe Life Events Scale divorce is second only to death as the most stressful life event a person can experience. Yet each person experiences the loss of their marriage differently. The length of the marriage, the strength of feelings one partner has toward the other, the presence of children, which partner initiated the divorce, how much time has passed since the idea of divorce was raised—all and more influence the emotional impact of divorce when it occurs.

Although grief is expressed differently, for different things and at different times, the stages of grief tend to remain the same. Kubler-Ross (1969) holds that grief occurs as a cycle which includes five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Not all people experience all five stages, nor is the model linear. Someone might bargain to save the marriage, become angry that their partner is not willing to return to counseling, and then become sad and despondent. At other times, a person may have come to a place of acceptance that divorce is inevitable, only to learn their partner is leaving them for someone new, thrusting them into a fresh stage of anger. People can also become stuck in the grieving process. This can be particularly deleterious to families because parental mental health directly impacts children’s adjustment in divorce (Taylor & Andrews, 2009, Parental Depression in the Context of Divorce and the Impact on Children. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 50(7), 472-480).

When one partner is not acting as upset as the other when divorcing, it does not mean they are not grieving or have not already grieved. Anticipatory grief can happen in advance of a loss, when someone knows that the marriage is not working and may come to an end. Often, after the divorce, new grieving takes place.

If you, or your partner, are grieving, consider getting some help. Working with a counselor who specializes in grief is an excellent way to get the support you need. Joining a support group such as Neutral Ground or Parents Without Partners puts you in touch with others who have experienced what you are going through. Finding a trusted friend or someone from your faith community who can listen without judgement and offer you support, can provide a safe place to process your feelings.

Many find the mediation process helpful because it allows couples to work at a pace that meets their needs, while de-escalating harmful conflict. Contact The Mediation Center today for more information at: [email protected]

Children Returning to the Nest – “Kidults”

What is a “kidult”? I define a kidult as a child who has been away at school and is returning home for the summer. They are either between school semesters, have graduated and need to find a full-time job, or are transitioning to graduate school.Review the situation

Do you have college students, boarding school students or newly graduated students that have returned to the nest? I have two coming home, one having just finished his freshman year and the other just graduated. I am both excited and nervous.

We, as parents look forward to their return, we have missed them and having an extra driver to help out with errands is a good thing; but at the same time it can bring some anxieties. We haven’t lived with them all year. How have you and they changed? How do we keep our sanity and be supportive parents? Setting ground rules early may lessen anxiety for everyone.

A kidult finds themselves having been “on their own” at school with many freedoms and setting their own schedule and now, they are living back home where there are parental rules and expectations. Parents have been living without this extra person(s) and now have to adjust to their return. This inevitably means a transition time and re-teaching by parents and re-learning by kidults, what the boundaries and ground rules are of living under the same roof. And yes, parents, it is okay to have rules and responsibilities for kidults living in your house if you feel it’s important. Things like helping out with the cleaning or yard work is an okay expectation, as is not staying out into all hours of the night.

So how do you avoid this conflict and reestablish a sense of family living with your kidult?

  • Parents first need to be on the same page with each other and discuss ahead of time what expectations are appropriate.
  • Plan a family meeting when they first get home to discuss the expectations. Don’t wait until the conflict happens. Be proactive.
  • Don’t dictate and preach. Involve them in the conversation. They need to take ownership in the process.
  • Remind them that their actions will now affect everyone in the house.
  • Talk about how life at school may be different than life at home.
  • Negotiate a list of responsibilities now that they are home, like:
    • Vacuuming
    • Mowing the lawn
    • Working a summer job
    • Actively seeking a full time job (if they have graduated)

You and your kidult have grown and changed in different ways. We want to encourage independence and growing up, but with a sense of family and respect for others.

Managing this potential conflict is about finding a balance for all of us and setting expectations early in their return can make for a much sunnier summer for all of you.