Author Topic: How to Deal with Divorced Parents as an Adult  (Read 8068 times)

Cpa Cat

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Re: How to Deal with Divorced Parents as an Adult
« Reply #50 on: December 31, 2019, 04:06:16 PM »
I think it's helpful sometimes to try to put parents' behavior in the context of normal social behavior by playing a game of "Should I tolerate this?"

The event: Someone is throwing a tantrum because they have made a demand of you and you have politely declined.

Ask yourself:

1. Should I give in to this if it's coming from a random guy in Walmart?
2. Should I give in to this if it's coming from a client
3. Should I give in to this if it's coming from a coworker?
4. Should I give in to this if it's coming from a friend?
5. Should I give in to this if it's coming from child?
6. Should I give in to this if it's coming from my parent?

The decision gets harder and harder as you go down the tree, but hopefully it puts into context for you that you really should expect to receive at least the same level of maturity from your parent as you would from anyone else on the list. And that there's a basic level of respect you expect from other adults that you should expect to receive from your parent, too.

Some people never really get past #1.

Case in point, a friend of mine ended up driving a homeless person around town because the homeless person demanded that she help them find a coat. She was later upset when the homeless person became angry with her because they were unable to find somewhere handing out free coats. The homeless person then threw food at her from the lunch she had purchased for them. She was in tears over this. I asked her why she was crying because a mentally ill person got angry and threw food at her? She replied that she hates it when people are angry with her. I then asked her how therapy was going.

Point being - you need to be able to set boundaries with all of the people on the list. If you can't get most of the way through the list, then you probably need therapy like my poor friend. If the only sticking point is your parents, then you just need to keep trying and understand that the unpleasantness fades, especially once you accept that they aren't being totally reasonable.

Imma

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Re: How to Deal with Divorced Parents as an Adult
« Reply #51 on: December 31, 2019, 04:46:11 PM »
I call BS on the whole creating separate events for divorced parents. Why? Funerals and weddings. If the grandkid gets married, are they expected to have separate weddings so the fighting folks donít meet? Stop enabling. They donít get to insist on their own special time that everyone has to accommodate because of their life decisions. You can get what you want, just maybe not how you want it. The only exception should be domestic abuse, otherwise, suck it up or visit on another day.

In my family's case, the not wanting to see the other parent thing is an extension of the abuse that already existed within their marriage. I am never going to enable that. Because I'm not willing to enable, there's not much contact with the abusing parent.

They did bump into each other by accident a few times and this was actually a very good experience for the formerly abused spouse. It's very enpowering to feel that this person is not in control of you anymore, that you're not confused or anxious anymore. The abuser's power is broken. 

RetiredAt63

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Re: How to Deal with Divorced Parents as an Adult
« Reply #52 on: January 01, 2020, 03:42:07 PM »
I call BS on the whole creating separate events for divorced parents. Why? Funerals and weddings. If the grandkid gets married, are they expected to have separate weddings so the fighting folks donít meet? Stop enabling. They donít get to insist on their own special time that everyone has to accommodate because of their life decisions. You can get what you want, just maybe not how you want it. The only exception should be domestic abuse, otherwise, suck it up or visit on another day.

Weddings and funerals are large enough events that contact is short and superficial. A family event is small and close contact.  Plus assuming that contact is OK unless there was abuse is presumptuous, you (generic you) have no idea about how much emotional pain was occurring during the marriage.

I was fine with being in the same room With Ex at Ex's sister's funeral and DD's wedding. I can't imagine spending Christmas with him at DD's.   Totally different situations.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: How to Deal with Divorced Parents as an Adult
« Reply #53 on: January 01, 2020, 05:33:31 PM »
I call BS on the whole creating separate events for divorced parents. Why? Funerals and weddings. If the grandkid gets married, are they expected to have separate weddings so the fighting folks donít meet? Stop enabling. They donít get to insist on their own special time that everyone has to accommodate because of their life decisions. You can get what you want, just maybe not how you want it. The only exception should be domestic abuse, otherwise, suck it up or visit on another day.

Weddings and funerals are large enough events that contact is short and superficial. A family event is small and close contact.  Plus assuming that contact is OK unless there was abuse is presumptuous, you (generic you) have no idea about how much emotional pain was occurring during the marriage.

I was fine with being in the same room With Ex at Ex's sister's funeral and DD's wedding. I can't imagine spending Christmas with him at DD's.   Totally different situations.

Look, we all get that some exes hate each other, a lot. Fine, but exes donít get to insist on BOTH sharing the day, but only set up so they EACH canít be around each other. Pick your battle. If you canít be in the same room on the same day, you get different days and you donít get to complain. Thatís what this is about here.

DaMa

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Re: How to Deal with Divorced Parents as an Adult
« Reply #54 on: January 01, 2020, 06:31:31 PM »
Look, you have the grandchild.  You have the power.  Do what YOU want to do.

My husband and I divorced in 2014.  It was very amicable.  In early December 2016, I decided I didn't want to see him anymore.*  I told my children this and asked that they let me know if he would be at gatherings, and I would decide whether to come or not.  When I didn't go, I would usually arrange a dinner at my home a week or two later.  I did not expect them to change their plans to accommodate me. 

That's my point -- you make plans and invite them when you are the host.  If they don't want to come, that's their choice.

It seems to me a solution is to not do anything with extended family on Christmas Day.  Keep that day for your wife and children.  All the others are hosted by someone else, so you are free to go for as long as YOU like and leave, sticking to your children's schedule.  Your kids will grow up loving have the whole Christmas day to play with mom and dad and all the new toys.  Tell your extended family you are taking that day to start your own traditions.

* Don't judge.  This is a really long, personal story.  We were married for 28 years, divorced for 3, then remarried in 2018.

Villanelle

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Re: How to Deal with Divorced Parents as an Adult
« Reply #55 on: January 01, 2020, 07:00:44 PM »
TL;DR: As you get older, how do you deal with divorced parents?  Do you make them put their differences aside or what?  Because I've officially hit my breaking point this year, and I don't think I can do this anymore.

I started a thread in the Mini Mustaches sub-forum about holding firm on scheduling holidays with the family: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/mini-money-mustaches/holding-firm-on-the-holidays-after-having-a-kid/

I now feel my actual concern is more appropriate for a broader sub-forum.  I originally thought my stress was because I did not want to schlep my son around, but after posting in that thread for two months, I've pretty much come to the realization that it has nothing to do with my son, but simply my inability to deal with having divorced parents as an adult.

By way of background, my parents divorced in 2006.  My dad re-married, my mom did not.  Doing separate things was annoying but tolerable for awhile, although my parents (and especially my dad's new wife) jostled for scheduling position.  It was always stressful but got dialed up to 10 around the holidays.

Then I started dating my wife about 6-7 years ago.  Fast-forward and we are married have a little son. Now everything is really, really challenging. Not just because of my son, but also because I started my own solo law practice last year.  I am very, very busy. 

And I think it's remarkably unfair on my wife that, for every holiday, she gets to do one thing with her family, and then "has" to do two things with my family -- one with my mom, one with my dad and his wife -- because they cannot get along. 

We've tried scheduling different days.  That's a nightmare because both parents insist on all siblings and grandkids being there.  So it is more challenging than scheduling a ten-person deposition
.

The compromise we did this year was that I would just host on one day. That turned into 6-7 hour ordeals on Christmas and Thanksgiving.  For Christmas, we did mass in the morning and then hosted from about 12:30 - 7:00.  My son goes to bed before 7:00, so there was almost no "us" time.

I honestly just don't know what to do anymore.  I'm so incredibly frustrated, and I can tell my wife hit her limit yesterday knowing we got almost no "us" time with our son on his first Christmas.

What to do?

I still think that there is a solution somewhere in the "different days" file.

Your parents don't get to "insist" that everyone be there.  As your mom what day in the first two weeks of January she wants to see your wife and child.  Tell your dad, as you did this year, that you are hosting from noon to 7 on Christmas day (or whatever) and to please let you know what time they plan to come because dinner is at 5 and you want to know whether to include them.

Or something similar. 

If that doesn't work for them, so be it.  They don't get to insist that you invite all the siblings.  This is your event; you are the host.  That means the guests don't dictate terms.  They accept, or not.  That is the only choice they have in the matter.  If you would like, then you can also give them a choice of perhaps a couple dates, or on what time of day the event is.  If they start with, "well, I really want to share this with your brother as well, and  I think all the cousins should be together, and..." you just correct them.  "No, we are planning a simple event with just you and your wife"

If I recall correctly, your mom offered to meet sometime in January.  That seems very reasonable on her part.  She's showing that she's trying to work with you and to be reasonable, so I think that returning that sentiment by working with her makes sense.  (For next year, as this year is already done.)

Captain FIRE

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Re: How to Deal with Divorced Parents as an Adult
« Reply #56 on: January 01, 2020, 07:39:47 PM »
I call BS on the whole creating separate events for divorced parents. Why? Funerals and weddings. If the grandkid gets married, are they expected to have separate weddings so the fighting folks donít meet? Stop enabling. They donít get to insist on their own special time that everyone has to accommodate because of their life decisions. You can get what you want, just maybe not how you want it. The only exception should be domestic abuse, otherwise, suck it up or visit on another day.

Weddings and funerals are large enough events that contact is short and superficial. A family event is small and close contact.  Plus assuming that contact is OK unless there was abuse is presumptuous, you (generic you) have no idea about how much emotional pain was occurring during the marriage.

I was fine with being in the same room With Ex at Ex's sister's funeral and DD's wedding. I can't imagine spending Christmas with him at DD's.   Totally different situations.

Look, we all get that some exes hate each other, a lot. Fine, but exes donít get to insist on BOTH sharing the day, but only set up so they EACH canít be around each other. Pick your battle. If you canít be in the same room on the same day, you get different days and you donít get to complain. Thatís what this is about here.


Not to mention these are extremely rare events, not annual ones.  The only funeral a divorced couple might be expected to attend together is for that of a downstream relative (child/grandchild), which we all hope is exceedingly rare to happen.  So realistically, we're talking weddings.  Two kids, two weddings, unless there's a remarriage, so let's say three weddings total?  Versus perhaps 40 Christmases and Thanksgivings, maybe another 20 kid birthdays (2 kids for 10 years) for 100 repeat events.

No, they don't get to choose a ton of priorities - seeing on holiday, without ex-spouse, all day.  But one seems imminently reasonable.  (Although as I noted above, OP doesn't seem to realize he too has a lot of priorities he's insisting on too, namely fewer events, no travel, around toddler's nap schedule, which complicates matters).

But it does seem reasonable and happier for all not to force people who hate each other into the same room year after year.  It's also being a good host to not make your guests feel uncomfortable if you can avoid it.  :)

Hula Hoop

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Re: How to Deal with Divorced Parents as an Adult
« Reply #57 on: January 01, 2020, 09:54:17 PM »

We alternate Xmas eve and Xmas day but none of my kids have partners or kids. Do what works best for you but be careful of blaming both parents for the divorce. More often than not, thereís one trying to make the marriage work, and one putting themselves and their own desires ahead of the family. Iím not saying you should choose - you shouldnít - but itís also not likely that they were equally at fault. Thereís probably a lot that happened that youíre not privy to.

Both my parents would say what you said about my other parent and both would be somewhat right.  Obviously, there are some circumstances where one party is clearly at fault (abuse, substance abuse etc.) but many more where things are more complicated and both parties behaved badly and not in the best interests of the children. 

Whatever your ex's flaws are, he is your children's father and the best outcome is that your adult children have a good relationship with him and their step mother.  I know it's hard but what I've realized is that divorce with children requires a lot of maturity and putting kids first.  I don't think it's appropriate to be satisfied (this is what comes through from your post) that one of your children doesn't talk to his father and the others don't like him much.  It's also strange that you felt the need to mention the age of your ex's wife - how is this relevant to anything?  Hopefully she's a decent human being who has a good relationship with your kids - her age is not relevant.  My step mother is also 19 years younger than my father which is completely immaterial to the kind of person she is or our relationship.


electriceagle

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Re: How to Deal with Divorced Parents as an Adult
« Reply #58 on: January 02, 2020, 06:56:22 AM »
By way of background, my parents divorced in 2006.  My dad re-married, my mom did not.  Doing separate things was annoying but tolerable for awhile, although my parents (and especially my dad's new wife) jostled for scheduling position.  It was always stressful but got dialed up to 10 around the holidays.

We've tried scheduling different days.  That's a nightmare because both parents insist on all siblings and grandkids being there.  So it is more challenging than scheduling a ten-person deposition.

Can you rent an Airbnb house -- perhaps one capable of holding 30 people -- and have all 3 sets of extended families there? This costs money, but would save you from driving back and forth (which also costs money) and consolidate Christmas into one single event.

iris lily

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Re: How to Deal with Divorced Parents as an Adult
« Reply #59 on: January 02, 2020, 04:37:45 PM »
By way of background, my parents divorced in 2006.  My dad re-married, my mom did not.  Doing separate things was annoying but tolerable for awhile, although my parents (and especially my dad's new wife) jostled for scheduling position.  It was always stressful but got dialed up to 10 around the holidays.

We've tried scheduling different days.  That's a nightmare because both parents insist on all siblings and grandkids being there.  So it is more challenging than scheduling a ten-person deposition.

Can you rent an Airbnb house -- perhaps one capable of holding 30 people -- and have all 3 sets of extended families there? This costs money, but would save you from driving back and forth (which also costs money) and consolidate Christmas into one single event.
That sounds like w preposterously complicated activity, and one almost guaranteed to blow up to boot.

No. Justóno.


MayDay

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Re: How to Deal with Divorced Parents as an Adult
« Reply #60 on: January 02, 2020, 04:53:00 PM »
Honestly does anyone enjoy having their divorced parents together? I only deal with it with my in-laws, bit it isn't fun. They don't hate each other but they don't enjoy it.

I get that some exes get along fine afterwards but that is not where I would focus my energy if you know they don't get along. If rather spend 2 hours with each, than 4 hours together and miserably awkward/tense.

Villanelle

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Re: How to Deal with Divorced Parents as an Adult
« Reply #61 on: January 02, 2020, 04:58:45 PM »
As this keep popping up, I have more thoughts.

I think you have to figure out what is most important to you.  Drawing a very hard line--we are doing X at Y time.  If you want to see us, you will do so at that time."  EOD

If only have one activity is the top priority, that's what will get it for you.

But you can also ask yourself if there's room for nuance.  Maybe you just don't want to work so hard, in which case perhaps you can consider alternatives, like a calm date before or after the week of Christmas, on which you cook a couple frozen pizzas and chill, watching a Netflix movie with your mom and your kid.  Or bagels and cream cheese with your dad and stepmom before they go off to celebrate with her family.  Or whatever. 

You can flex and remove some of the things you complained about, but probably not all.  Of course you don't have to do so.  Whether or not it is the right answer depends on your priorities, and how strong those priorities are. 

So, what is most important?  Consolidating into one day?  And then what's second most important?  Because you can do #1 on Christmas day, and you might see dad and step mom for a brief time, and maybe not mom at all because she knows dad is coming.  But if doing it on the holiday is the second priority, that's the right answer.  If, on the other hand, the second priority is maximizing the chances of seeing everyone, then maybe you pick a different day, but still do one day.  But maybe #1 isn't actually "one day", it's "less stress", in which case that pizza with mom on January 11 might be the better choice.

LadyMuMu

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Re: How to Deal with Divorced Parents as an Adult
« Reply #62 on: January 02, 2020, 06:18:03 PM »
When I got married, I put a firm end to my divorced parents "expecting" holidays. I HATED shuttling to and fro as a kid, and I wasn't going to do it anymore. We went full reset and told the parents (mine and his) that we were NOT travelling to extended family for holidays, but anyone was welcome to come to ours but we weren't negotiating times so they wouldn't have to see one another. If that was important to them, they needed to contact one another and work it out amongst themselves. 15 years later and we still enjoy most of our holidays in our own home and enjoy visiting family for less stressful non-holiday time.

frugaldrummer

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Re: How to Deal with Divorced Parents as an Adult
« Reply #63 on: January 04, 2020, 01:12:38 AM »
Quote
PM

We alternate Xmas eve and Xmas day but none of my kids have partners or kids. Do what works best for you but be careful of blaming both parents for the divorce. More often than not, thereís one trying to make the marriage work, and one putting themselves and their own desires ahead of the family. Iím not saying you should choose - you shouldnít - but itís also not likely that they were equally at fault. Thereís probably a lot that happened that youíre not privy to.

Both my parents would say what you said about my other parent and both would be somewhat right.  Obviously, there are some circumstances where one party is clearly at fault (abuse, substance abuse etc.) but many more where things are more complicated and both parties behaved badly and not in the best interests of the children. 

Whatever your ex's flaws are, he is your children's father and the best outcome is that your adult children have a good relationship with him and their step mother.  I know it's hard but what I've realized is that divorce with children requires a lot of maturity and putting kids first.  I don't think it's appropriate to be satisfied (this is what comes through from your post) that one of your children doesn't talk to his father and the others don't like him much.  It's also strange that you felt the need to mention the age of your ex's wife - how is this relevant to anything?  Hopefully she's a decent human being who has a good relationship with your kids - her age is not relevant.  My step mother is also 19 years younger than my father which is completely immaterial to the kind of person she is or our relationship.

Iím not pleased that his relationships with his children have deteriorated so badly - Iím angry with him for causing it to happen and leaving me to do all the work psychologically and financially while he goes off in a classic midlife crisis trying to recapture his youth by marrying his much younger wife. I donít have anything against her - she was not one of his affair partners (thank god) . I actually feel kind of sorry for her because the man she got is just a shadow of his former self.  I also hope she will care for him in his old age so the burden doesnít fall on my children.

(Just one example of how ex has alienated the kids: one child had a serious mental breakdown in college and ended up in an inpatient psych program. When they came out of the program exís response was ďwell, youíre not in college anymore so I donít have to contribute to your support anymoreĒ. I had to point out to ex that even if son got a job the very day he got out of the hospital, he wouldnít receive a paycheck before rent was due. This callous lack of regard for their well-being - when he makes $350k per year and it was no financial hardship to him to help - is what has caused his relationships with them to deteriorate. Iíve never badmouthed him - but his children have come to see his narcissism on their own. )

Some marriages dissolve mutually, but usually, one is cheating or abusive or abusing substances. Cheaters cheat even when they have great spouses, because cheaters are hooked on the high of infatuation and/or trying to dull their depression. I was a kind, loving, faithful, attractive, supportive wife and by my exís own admission our sex life was great for all 26 years. His leaving had to do with his own inability to be satisfied with a great life and family and his selfishness. And even so, I donít care at all anymore about the divorce but I DO care about how crappy he has been towards our children. (And in case you think Iím blind to my own flaws, EVERY boyfriend I had after my divorce asked me the same question - what was WRONG with my ex that he would let a female like me get away?)

I think expecting divorced parents to show up and be polite for weddings and graduations is reasonable - but holiday parties? No, itís unreasonable. I DO agree that parents have to realize they have to be flexible about dates or trading years.


MrThatsDifferent

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Re: How to Deal with Divorced Parents as an Adult
« Reply #64 on: January 04, 2020, 11:32:13 AM »
When I got married, I put a firm end to my divorced parents "expecting" holidays. I HATED shuttling to and fro as a kid, and I wasn't going to do it anymore. We went full reset and told the parents (mine and his) that we were NOT travelling to extended family for holidays, but anyone was welcome to come to ours but we weren't negotiating times so they wouldn't have to see one another. If that was important to them, they needed to contact one another and work it out amongst themselves. 15 years later and we still enjoy most of our holidays in our own home and enjoy visiting family for less stressful non-holiday time.

Perfect. This is exactly how I would handle it.

TheAnonOne

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Re: How to Deal with Divorced Parents as an Adult
« Reply #65 on: January 04, 2020, 06:37:43 PM »

Saturday December 14 -- birthday at mom's
Sunday December 15 -- birthday at dad's
Saturday December 21 -- "Christmas" with mom
Sunday December 22 -- "Christmas" with dad
Tuesday December 24 -- Christmas Eve with in-laws
Wednesday December 25 -- two visits to mom and dad
Saturday December 28 -- dad's wife's birthday

PTSD ALERT: This is basically my life but with my wife's parents.

The kicker is that we end up doing this schedule TWICE back to back for Thanksgiving as well. It ends up being something like an entire quarter of a year of eating bad losing weekends and holly jolly joy joy.

It's January 4th today, and we are having another xmas today for my dad's extended side. Luckily we skipped this one. Yikes.


The difficult part of my wife's side is that the divorce was NOT a 'good time'. They will not talk to each other and it's like trying to keep anti-matter/matter reactions from happening all year long "Hey did you invite my dad or my mom to X thing". If they ever see each-other, I apologize for the bright flash of light in the sky and the whole end-of-the-world thing.


If anyone has my situation, good luck. I have no idea what to do about it other than just avoid seeing both of them as much as possible. This works in principal but, then you get snide comments at Christmas about never driving 3-5 hours away and seeing them on a random Saturday. Ick.

RetiredAt63

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Re: How to Deal with Divorced Parents as an Adult
« Reply #66 on: January 04, 2020, 07:01:52 PM »
You know, you don't even have to have divorced parents to have this problem. My parents (2 hour drive away) were flexible but we HAD to be at Ex's parents for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 4 hour drive. We usually ended up seeing my parents on fhe way there or the way back.  We stayed home the year DD was a baby but then it started up again.  I really wish I had put my foot down about this, we drove through some terrible winter driving conditions that we should never have been out in.

DD doesn't get much time off at Christmas (really all of December is impossible for her to visit me) so we figure out what weekend before Christmas will be good for me to visit her. We don't care that I am not there on Christmas Day.  We have nice relaxed time together at a time that works for her.


Don't be me. Put you own family first.  I was at a wedding once where the priest pointed out that "forsaking all others" meant that your parents and siblings have lower priority in your life than your spouse.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2020, 02:10:15 PM by RetiredAt63 »

Chraurelius

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Re: How to Deal with Divorced Parents as an Adult
« Reply #67 on: March 14, 2020, 08:11:49 AM »
You're forgetting Easter!  The religious father should get the whole day -- church, brunch, and baskets in the morning, then an egg hunt and dinner later. After, it's the most important Christian holiday.  Maybe he could drop by for a couple hours on Christmas Day.

Then you can skip any birthday you don't feel like attending, and have less stress overall.

MayDay

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Re: How to Deal with Divorced Parents as an Adult
« Reply #68 on: March 15, 2020, 07:14:49 AM »
You're forgetting Easter!  The religious father should get the whole day -- church, brunch, and baskets in the morning, then an egg hunt and dinner later. After, it's the most important Christian holiday.  Maybe he could drop by for a couple hours on Christmas Day.

Then you can skip any birthday you don't feel like attending, and have less stress overall.

Easter: not important at all while we are fighting over Thanksgiving and Christmas, but suddenly really important in March.