Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bianca Knows Best … And Helps an Adult with Divorcing Parents

Posted on Tue, Feb 2, 2010 at 3:01 PM

Dear Bianca,

My parents are growing further and further apart as they age. They’re both in their mid-60s now, and I’ve determined that they pretty much hate one another. Since they’ve retired, I think they’re just together too often.

I’m in my early 30s now, but I grew up in a very close-knit, loving home. Back then, my parents were best friends, completely inseparable. We went on family trips with my brother and sister. We never, ever imagined our parents could split.

Now, divorce seems inevitable. I’m grateful that they waited to grow apart after the kids were out of the house. But it still makes me sad to think of my parents going their separate ways. Not to mention that it will certainly be hard on my sister and brother’s kids. I don’t have any kids yet. Also, my mom has had some health problems, and she’ll likely need someone to care for her in a few years. If my dad’s not around, the responsibility will certainly fall to one of the siblings.

Is there anything my siblings and I could do to help them heal their marriage? Or should we let them slowly drift away from each other?

— Grown Kid from a Soon-to-Be Broken Home

Dear Grown Kid,

If your parents are falling out of love with one another, there’s really not much you can do. But if they’re just growing tired of spending too much time together, maybe there’s hope.

I’ve heard from people who work together and live together that spending all day and night with one another can be taxing on a relationship. I know I wouldn’t want to spend all my time with my boyfriend (sorry, Paul!). In order for relationships to thrive, people need space and it sounds like your parents aren’t getting any.

Sit down with your siblings and make out a list of all your mom’s hobbies and dad’s hobbies. Pick out a few that they don’t have in common, and offer to take up those hobbies with both parents separately. For example, if your mom loves film, take her to the movies sans dad. If dad likes football, arrange a guy’s night with your brother and your pop’s friends. Take mom out to dinner while the game is on.

It doesn’t matter what you choose to do. Just get them away from one another for a few hours a week.

If that doesn’t help, you’ll have to step back and let live. People do change over the years, and it’s possible that your parents have grown to be incompatible. They may be happier living on their own. Just be thankful they stuck together while you were a kid.

If divorce happens, you may have to step in and help your mother as her health fails, but she raised you for at least 18 years. You owe her. Don’t bitch.

Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at bphillips@memphisflyer.com.

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