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Gram and Gramps are divorcing. What should you do?

Fashions can be trendy and things can trend in social media. The more common definition of a trend is something that is becoming more or less prevalent. Gray divorce is one of the things that is currently trending in an upward direction. It's estimated that one in 4 people in the U.S. going through a breakup in relationship are 50 years old or older.

What that can translate into is a situation in which an adult child in Texas or somewhere else can suddenly be confronted with the stunning news that mom and dad are getting a divorce. It can be disruptive on a personal level for the adult child. But what if there are grandchildren involved?

You're first reaction as an adult child of divorcing parents might be to say, "Hoo boy." But those experienced in this particular area of law know there are more productive ways to respond. Here are some thoughts in this regard.

First, don't be surprised if your parents' divorce leaves you second guessing whether you and your spouse are on the same track. It's good to remember that their situation is not yours. Maybe the events will cause you to examine your own relationship with an eye toward redefining how you can better resolve your issues.

Then, specific to the divorce itself, there are these suggestions:

  • Stay out of the middle. Your parents are adults and this is their relationship. You can't fix things. To keep from being pulled into the fray, establish boundaries. Make them clear to your parents. And make clear that you won't take sides.
  • Embrace counseling if you need it. If you're stressed by what's happening and fear becoming estranged from your parents, seek the help you need to get through it.
  • Don't leave the grandchildren hanging. They can't be shielded from the reality. If the grandparents are already actively involved in the lives of the grandchildren, schedule times between them so those relationships can continue.
  • Accept your parents' humanity. Just because they're your parents doesn't mean they are flawless. They both have their good and bad qualities. Try to practice understanding and maybe even forgiveness.

The breakup of your parents' marriage doesn't mean the end of family. It may just mean a change.

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