How to Emotionally Support Divorcing Parents
From marriage dilemmas to family issues, Caroline's got the answers!Photo by Michael T. Greco
Caroline Manzo puts the real in The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and her fans relate to the reality star's no-nonsense attitude, focus on family and, above all, abundant common sense. In this column, Caroline helps solve your most pressing dilemmas.
The Dilemma: I am a grown woman and my parents have decided to get a divorce. The divorce is taking its toll on both my parents, as it has on me, and I want to be sure I am doing what I can to keep my bonds with each of them strong. How do I help support them emotionally without seeming like I am taking sides?
Caroline's Ruling: I can imagine that this would be a difficult situation for you—after all, your parents have been together for quite a while, and it has to be unsettling for you to think of them living separate lives. But you can't lose sight of the fact that your parents are more than just "Mom and Dad"—they are individuals with their own personal wants, needs and desires for happiness.
Make your parents aware that you will support them through the process, but that there must be set ground rules and boundaries. Let them know that you love them both equally and will remain neutral—in other words, no bashing, no he said, she said. I would guess that this may be a bit of a challenge, so if and when they start "venting," then tell them that you're not interested in hearing the sordid details, but that you'd rather know how they're doing (What was their day like, etc?). Don't fuel the fire by allowing them to put you in the middle.