10 of 15
 
Until their conversation, Tim and Colleen say they had no idea how much their daughters suffered. "I think that we knew the pain would last a long, long time, and I think we know now it will last forever," Tim says.

Although Colleen was surprised at how angry Amy was, Gary wasn't. "The anger flows. Now the children are raised in an environment where they see the behavior of anger, and that's the way their parent navigates life," Gary says. "Well, guess what? That's the way I learn to navigate life—from my parents' behavior. That anger keeps vibrant and keeps going."

The pain of divorce only causes everyone to blame themselves, Gary says. Parents need to let go of the fact that they will be blamed. "It's painful for a parent to think that you contributed or hurt your child," Gary says. "Most adults are not looking to say to their parent, 'I blame you, and I'm allowed to go on and screw up in my life because of you.' They really are just looking for some understanding."

Gary says parents need to make that effort to sympathize with their child and avoid making excuses. "Just say, 'I understand you. I apologize. But I know you're not telling me I'm a bad person.' That way they don't have to defend themselves. ... You can explain it, and it can be understandable, but that does not make it excusable."
PREVIOUS | NEXT
FROM: Adult Children of Divorce Confront Their Parents
Published on March 14, 2008

NEXT STORY

Comment

LONG FORM
ONE WORD