Telling Your Parents that You are Divorcing

You have made the decision to divorce. You have told your spouse. You have told your children. You have told your close friends and siblings. Now, you need to tell your parents.

It may be even more difficult if your spouse has decided to divorce you and you are still invested in the marriage.

Telling your parents can be very difficult. If your parents are still married to each other, you have watched them survive rough times during their marriage. You fear that they will be disappointed in you. That they may consider you a quitter or a failure. Also, you are sharing this news with people who know you extremely well. They are unlikely to accept generalizations as the reasons for the divorce. You know they will probe.

Do not put off this talk for long, especially after you have told your siblings. Your parents need to hear the news from you; not your siblings or others. If possible, deliver the news in person. The next best vehicle is deliver it over the phone or Skype; a communication tool that permits discussion. Do not email or text the news.

Tell them as much as you are comfortable sharing. If the reason for the divorce is that you have engaged in conduct that your spouse found unacceptable and you know your parents will find reprehensible, best to get it over with and tell them. Tell them what was going through your mind. Tell them what your future plans are.

Your parents will want reassurance that you and their grandchildren, if you have children, will be alright. If the situation is too new and you do not yet have a plan, tell them. However, also tell them what you plan to do. For example, if you plan to see a lawyer in the near future and get guidance, tell them this. If you are going to see a therapist, tell them that. If you are totally lost, get their advice.

Many people find that they cannot finance a divorce without help from family. Your parents can be a great resource for helping you pay for the lawyer or the mental health professional you will need.

Parents will usually be disappointed that your marriage did not work out. In cases where they have been watching you struggle in a dysfunctional marriage for years, they may be relieved. However, they can be a great source of support at this difficult time. Do not shut them out, if you have enjoyed a positive relationship with them in the past. Decide what boundaries you need in place in this relationship. Then make those clear to them. However, keep them in your support system and allow them to help you through this process.