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ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Any adult children of divorced parents?

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (25338points) July 28th, 2010

I’m asking those of you who were already adults (or even teens) when your parents split.

When your parents split up.. was it pretty final from the get go?
Was it ugly and hateful? Did they split up and then get back together and then split up again? Were there long periods of time where they made it seem feasible that they were going to get back together? Did you ever expect them to divorce?

Just trying to feel out what is the “norm.” My parents have been separated for almost 2 years now, but lately they seem to be hovering closer and closer to getting back together than ever before. I’m trying to do my best to protect my younger sisters from a lot of unnecessary confusion, but I’m pretty confused myself at this point.

If you’re comfortable talking about it, I’d like to hear your experience.

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9 Answers

jerv's avatar

My mother divorced her second husband when I was in my teens. They are still friends, but we all learned that some people were never meant to be more than that.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

My parents split up when I was 18, after over 25 years of marriage. My dad never wanted to get back together with my mom, so I was never confused about that. However, both violated pretty much ever “do not” in the book, using me as a pawn, confiding in me, bashing the other in front of me, etc. They both lied a lot, sometimes about small stuff (like my mom told me my dad was allergic to strawberries and always had been, when I’d seen him eat them all the time… he’s not) to the weird and larger and batshit crazy (my mother spent 3 years trying to convince me that my father was an alcoholic, but kept changing when he’d become one, from right before he left her to before I was born, and my father told me at one point that the divorce and been 100% finalized, legalized, notarized, etc 6 months before it actually was…). My father left my mother for his nurse (he’s a doctor), and I was working in his office at the time. She kept working there, I kept working there, it was a hellish couple of years. They kept being inappropriate in the office (yup, in that way… something you always wanted to see when your parents never even Frenched in front of you) and flaunted her whole “look, I’m the new woman in your dad’s life, sucker!” thing. They got married a few years ago and didn’t invite me to the wedding. A couple years ago, my mother sued me, trying to say that I was incompetent and should be un-emancipated so that she could claim me as a dependent and force my dad to pay child support. My therapist calls it a “high-conflict divorce”. Take a really, really bad split from a celebrity couple in the tabloids, and then make it worse. Isn’t it fun having parents who both have personality disorders?

BoBo1946's avatar

Yes, Mother divorced my Father during those days when divorce was frowned upon. Dad, a World War II victim…mentally ill) turned to alcohol after the War. It was just a very bad deal. He would threaten to kill us all and stuff like that. Just too much for Mother to handle. At the divorce trial, Mother made me testify against my Dad. I was 9 years old. Horrible experience. My Dad’s people were on the left side of the courtroom and my Mom’s on the right side. Before the trial was over, Dad lost it. The police had to restaint him. Just a very bad memory.

MissAusten's avatar

My parents separated when I was in college and my brother was a senior in high school. My mom moved out while my dad was on a fishing trip with my brother. I knew what she was planning, and her giddy attitude made me kind of sick. At that time, I was starting to realize that she’d spent our entire childhoods setting up the “Mom is the good guy, Dad is the bad guy” theme. We took her at her word, with my dad’s lack of communication skills contributing to the whole thing. He was never abusive or anything remotely like it.

At first they didn’t speak or have any contact. At some point, they started talking again. My dad wanted to work things out and see a counselor, but my mom refused. She actually said to me, “I wish he would just give me money and leave me alone.” She was only spending time with him because he would buy her things or give her cash. This led to a couple of very awkward family holidays, with my dad trying very hard to be more attentive and affectionate, and my mom cheerfully going along with it even though I knew it was all fake on her side. It was always a relief to go back to school, and an even bigger relief to move very far away after graduation.

Finally, my dad got tired of all the effort with no reciprocation from my mom. He told her that if she wasn’t really interested in saving the marriage, they should go ahead and file for divorce. She immediately had divorce papers served to him at work, and for the next year and half pulled every dirty trick she could to get as much money from him as she could. The things she’d bring up in court were horrible, and never true. I was too far away to become a tool in her schemes, but my brother wasn’t so lucky. She continuously put him in the middle of things, and he had a hard time not believing her lies. She had me very worried about my dad, telling me he was about to lose his job and would probably go to jail because of the things she was bringing up in court. She claimed he’d been abusing her all along, and was also abusing my brother by denying him food and verbally assaulting him. There were many, many other lies.

Finally one night I called my dad and broke the biggest family rule: don’t ask Dad anything personal. To my surprise, he told me his side of the story in detail. Unlike my mom’s version of events, his made sense. His job was fine, and he had never done anything to remotely put him in danger of arrest. All of the claims she made in court were easily refuted with documented evidence, and the judge eventually made her pay her own legal fees because she kept the case going with all kinds of fabricated nonsense. I got into many screaming matches on the phone with my mom, who can never admit to lying or take any responsibility for her own decisions. Finally, I told her that I would not talk to her about my dad or the divorce. I said it was between the two of them, had nothing to do with me, and stuck to that rule. She used to try to get me to talk to my dad on her behalf, or find things out about him and report back to her. It was all pretty disgusting, and I lost whatever remaining respect I had for her. It also became clear during this time that she had some serious mental health problems, but to this day she refuses to admit that or seek help.

They were eventually divorced, and both are remarried. My dad is very happy, and his wife is great. My mom is miserable. She married a guy she worked with because she thought he had a lot of money, blew through what she got from the divorce, had their house taken by the bank, and now live in a dump. Her husband cheated on her and his seven grown kids are mean, petty people. Karma? She has rewritten history and now says my dad filed for divorce even though she wanted to move back home, says she always loved him and never wanted to leave, blah blah blah. I find it kind of funny that those sentiments of hers didn’t start until her current husband cheated on her, got cancer, lost their house, and reduced their financial circumstances to a level my mother hasn’t had to live at since she was very young. My dad always made very good money, and my mom was used to living in a big house, driving new cars, and buying whatever she wanted for herself. I think she doesn’t miss my dad so much as the lifestyle she had when married to him.

My dad and brother finally got past all of their anger and resentment over what happened during the divorce. They both see how my brother was manipulated and lied to, and actually have a good relationship now. It’s a nice improvement from the time they couldn’t hardly be in the same room without almost getting into a fistfight.

CMaz's avatar

It was final from the get go.
It was ugly and hateful.

After 25 years, they still refuse, for the most part, to talk to one another.

It is not your responsibility “to protect your siblings.” Your confusion can only make more confusion. If anything don’t loose the communication link between you and your parents. So you can have a better understanding of why they are behaving the way they are.

KTWBE's avatar

My case is not the norm, but it’s wonderful nonetheless. After nearly twenty years of marriage, my parents divorced when I was young—and remarried each other five years later. I protested both bitterly, the former because I naturally didn’t want my dad to leave and the second because, frankly, I had gotten used to playing one off of the other.

I got over that after it was clear that their second marriage together was permanent and happy. They’re coming up on their second fourth anniversary and have a stronger, more stable marriage than ever. If they ever argue, we always joke about it: “What are you going to do, get divorced?” Their response is, “Nah, we tried that, didn’t work!”

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Thanks for sharing… I really do appreciate it.

Adagio's avatar

My parents separated when I was 26 years old after 28 years of marriage, that was 24 years ago, it was very amicable, there was no third-party involved. Mum and Dad still get on very well together, the only fly in the ointment is my father’s partner who is rather jealous and wonders why there need be any contact between my parents at all, oh well that is her problem to deal with, or not, as seems to be the case, I have no sympathy for her I am afraid, my father is obviously committed to the relationship, at almost 70 she needs to grow up…
I think it makes it so much easier for children, young or adult, if the ex-partners are mature about the situation and can get on together, perhaps not initially but certainly after some time has passed. Both my brother and I have a divorce behind us but maintain very good relationships with our ex-partners, it seems to run in the family…

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