If you’re ending your marriage, you’ve probably seen plenty of articles about how parents should tell their children or even how to tell your boss. But what about telling your parents?
No matter how old you are, you’re still their child and you don’t want to disappoint or worry them. However, this is something you need to tell them.
Every divorce and every family is different, so only you can determine the best way to discuss it with them. If you’ve been married for a long time and they consider your spouse almost like another child, you may choose to tell them together – particularly if it was a mutual decision. If you have children, they may be concerned about what effect this will have on them as grandparents. It can help to reassure them that you both want them to remain part of your kids’ lives.
You can’t control what they say, but you can control your own words and reactions
The impending divorce may come as a complete surprise, or they may have known it was coming. Either way, the announcement is likely going to be a jolt. You can’t predict or control how they’ll react, so you need to focus on what you’ll say – and on what you won’t share with them.
Remember that you aren’t responsible for their feelings about the divorce. You also don’t owe them details. You don’t want to push them away, but it’s crucial to set boundaries early.
It’s fine to acknowledge their negative reaction, but it’s also fine to tell them it’s not helping you to hear that. Don’t argue about whether you’re doing the right thing. Even if the divorce wasn’t your decision, it’s not good for anyone if they unload their anger on your spouse.
Focus on your need for emotional support
Let them know what you do need from them. Emotional support might be the most important thing. If they live nearby, you may need them to help with the kids. You might need a little financial support until you work out your property division and other divorce agreements. You can ask for those things later. The initial conversation should just be to let them know what’s happening.
If one or both parents feel they need to offer advice on everything, remember that you don’t have to take it. However, don’t dismiss all of it out-of-hand. If it gets overwhelming, tell them you’ve got good people advising you. By having experienced legal guidance, you can truthfully and confidently say that.