I am here to provide support to those experiencing high-conflict divorce, including the innocent bystanders. Recently, it occurred to me that maybe my client’s parents need some TLC as well. I have started to coach some of my clients with a parent. Remember, your parents are also in the battle.
The effect on your parents
Your parents are likely to be quite affected by your divorce. They may be under direct fire if your ex is particularly hostile. My ex decided to sue my parents and take a run at their estate. In their seventies, my folks needed to lawyer-up to help them defend their hard-earned assets. Their lawyer was so compassionate, she was willing to travel to their winter home in Florida to get them trial-ready.
If there are children involved, your parents may have a great desire to shield their grandchildren from the conflict. They will feel tremendous resentment toward your ex for any unpleasant exposure that s/he is creating.
Your parents may be funding this misadventure or providing temporary housing for you and your children. They may be exposed to the conflict, and become part of your team. For many of you in the battle, your parents are your lifeline and greatest supporters during this arduous life event. They feel your fear, pain and stress. This is a lot for a senior to endure. Their family structure changes almost as much as yours.
Appreciate your parents
This is not their divorce, but somehow they are now on the battlefield in some form. I always say to my clients, thank goodness for our parents. We need to acknowledge the part they are playing in keeping you and your children physically, emotionally and often financially secure.
Your parents provide a source of consistency and unconditional love for your children. Their home can be a safe haven and may very well be the only residence that doesn’t change.
Therapeutic support for your parents
There is a really good reason to give grandparents support and tools to manage their emotions about your ex. How they feel about your ex will impact their relationship with your children.
I meet with my client and her mother every two weeks to provide a venue for Grandma to vent about her ex son-in-law. I teach Grandma tools to be less triggered by the things that he says and does. We work on believing that his shenanigans don’t have to be a problem for her or her granddaughter. I remind Grandma that her poisonous thoughts about the ex affect her relationship with her granddaughter, which she holds sacred.
If your parents don’t want to speak to a professional about their experience, at least offer them the tools and insights that your professional is sharing with you. Most of all, try to show them at least a fraction of the love that they are holding for you and your kids.