I suffer with ACOD syndrome. That’s Adult Child Of Divorce syndrome. It’s a sad issue, but I’m pretty sure the majority of readers reading this, are also sufferers.
To prove this theory – this year alone 42% of marriages ended in divorce!!!!
That’s a lot of Ben & Jerry’s and whiskey consumed…..
Divorce can be a horrific time for the couple involved, as well as the young children who are being fought over. But no one really speaks about the effects it has on an adult child, because ya know, you’ve flown the nest and you’re an adult now! The reality is even at the ripe old age of 21 (when my dad decided to leave my mum) I actually thought I could cope with it all because of how adult I was.
Let’s pause for a moment whilst I stop myself laughing.
I was definitely not adult-enough to cope with the situation!
I struggled as I watched my mum revert back to her teenage self. The fact that she started wearing leather trousers, downed jäger bombs and all my mates nicknamed her The Milf gave me nightmares for weeks. I mean I don’t even wear leather trousers, drink jäger bombs or get pet names like that!
My mum was getting chatted up more than I was and her phone rung so much, I actually wondered if the police would start tapping into her conversations. It was as if overnight our roles had reversed and I became the worried adult who questioned if she had had enough to drink and whether she should be going out wearing that dress!
See there’s a lot of books on how to cope with your own divorce but hardly any on how to cope when you’re an adult child of divorce.
One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn to deal with, is having to readjust to my “new” parents. Mum and dad Ltd are no more and they are no longer the stable people I once thought they were. Instead I now view them as two humans, who sometimes make mistakes just like you and me!
As the older child I feel it is my perogative to worry about my parents. And as ridiculous as that might sound, I do find myself asking questions, just like a parent who’s investigating their hormonal teenager’s whereabouts. You know they’re up to no good and even though you don’t really want to know, you still find yourself thinking about it.
When your friend experiences the harsh reality of a break up, you are there for them. A shoulder to cry on and you reassure them that it is in no way their fault, even if it is. You probably take your heartbroken friend out clubbing to blow away the cobwebs and you set them up on blind dates to enlighten their dating flame. But when it’s your parents going through a break-up, there is this real sense of awkwardness, where you really want to be there for them but at the same time you want to run miles in the other direction.
It is hard to find compassion with your parents during divorce, because, well they’re your parents! They’re supposed to be looking after you and telling you that “that boy is not worth your tears!” Instead you have to hold your tongue and watch your folks act out the ridiculous things that they taught you not to do when you were growing up.
“Mum, pretty sure you told me not to drink on an empty stomach and dad, I thought lying was bad? ”
What’s funny is that both my parents lives were very different to mine when they were in their early twenties. At 21 my dad owned a business and my mum had miniature me to deal with. And then here’s me now at 24, struggling to decide which Starbucks Christmas flavour I should choose.
Yet despite my lack of responsibilities I still tried to guide both my parents through their uncertain time. And that’s the problem when you’re an adult child of divorce – you feel a responsibility to mend everything back together.
I feel sorry for anyone who is an ACOD because even if you don’t want to, you will get sucked into all the drama your parents create. It’s inevitable.
But one thing I will say, is eventually the dust will settle and as hard as it is to believe right now, there are positives to having divorced parents. For example you get two Christmases. IM JOKING! Although that is fun. The positives for me is I actually have a better relationship with them now. My dad and I get on better than we ever did before, and my mum has now become interesting to listen to because she is constantly trying new things, making new friends and going to new places.
Having divorced parents is one of the best life lessons you can learn from. Honestly, you can learn a lot from the way people behave and how they reinvent themselves through a tricky time. You will also learn a lot about yourself too.
Once you understand that your parents are not perfect and are simply human, you will have a much better relationship with them.
As easy as it is to blame people, sometimes you have to forgive and move on. Everything happens for a reason and as long as you and your parents are there for eachother, that is all that matters.