- Mental Health
How and When to Divorce Your Parents
I realize this may sound like a controversial topic: If you're the type of zealot who immediately feels the need to rant and rave about God, Jesus, Family Values or any other such thing, you should probably stop reading now, cos I'm not writing this for you -- I'm writing this for the adult children of parents whose behavior greatly impedes the quality of life experienced by said children. Divorce is not something one does over a minor incident; this is a pretty big thing one only does when one has to.
If you're a teenager reading this, I'm not writing for you, either. Don't print this out and show it to your parents; it's not meant for your situation. That's not to say some of you don't have parents who may need divorcing; and if you're a teen who's actually being abused in some way, I'd advise you confide in a teacher or counselor immediately. If you're not comfortable with that, there are a number of hotlines you can call, but I am not able to advise you beyond that. Again, this article is for ADULT children of parents who are toxic and impossible to deal with any longer.
Why would someone want to divorce their parents?
Because you've exhausted all other possibilities. Only you can know if you've done this -- and you will know when you have.
Because your parents suck. And we're not just talking about the nosey mother or emotionless father; that's pretty standard stuff which hardly warrants divorce. No, we're talking about parents who seem incapable of treating a child (or anyone else) with any measure of respect. Parents who hate themselves to the point they can't love anyone else. Parents who still hit you even though you're an adult with kids of your own. Parents who lie to you for no apparent reason. Parents who lie to you for any reason. Obviously there are plenty of other things which could go on that list, but you get the idea.
Because they're beyond reform. Certainly, rehabilitation is the desirable solution here, but some people are beyond it. Parents are just people, after all, and we all know that some people cannot and will not change under any circumstances.
Because your emotional and mental stability have to come first. If you're considering divorcing your parents, it's not over something as trivial as hating the way mum always gets in your business when you drop by for dinner. If you're considering divorcing your parents, it's because you're at your wit's end -- and because you're tired of feeling badly for days and days and days following any interaction with them.
Because they're not your responsibility. You are not obligated to go through life feeling like crap because you have emotionally stunted parents. You are, however, obligated to be the best person you can be. If you cannot do that while maintaining a relationship with your parents, then that's just how it is.
How to Do it:
Stop being a victim. The next time they start a fight and give you the silent treatment (or whatever) -- roll with it. This is your opportunity to spring clean that part of your life and put something new and better in its place.
Don't do it with anger. It won't work, if you do. It has to come from a place of self-love or emotional indifference. If it comes from anger, you'll get over that anger quickly enough and end up back where you started.
Have an emotional outlet. Some people don't need this, but most do. If you feel saddened by this divorce, have someone in whom you can confide. If you don't, you may end up going to your parents in a subconscious attempt to fill this need.
Get extra support if you need it. You may also want to seek therapy from a professional for the first few months following the divorce.
Close all communication lines except for the written word. Do not talk to your parents after you've decided to divorce them; it's too easy to get emotional, and that kind of thing is not going to help. If you need to communicate, do it by writing emails or letters -- this takes more concentration, allows for reflection and is a much better method.
Divorce Doesn't Have to be Permanent
If your parents get their crap together at some point, there's no reason you can't reconcile with them. Look at Pam Anderson and Tommy Lee -- how many times have they divorced and remarried? Ok, probably once, but you get the idea. The important thing here is this: You're not divorcing them because you hate them and don't want them in your life; you're doing this because you can't cope with them in your life.
Hey, it happens -- and sometimes there just isn't a better answer.