Your Parents Divorce and You: The Ultimate Survival Guide for Navigating the Uncharted Waters of Your Parents' Divorce Rebecca A. Fein
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Contents: Chapter 1: My Story.........................................................................3 Chapter 2: The Aftermath: 5 Steps to Protecting Yourself...........8 Chapter 3: The Way Things Aren't!: Mythology.........................13 Chapter 4: Respond or React?......................................................21
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My Story I was 28 when my parents divorced and it was really about 20 years overdue. I think they stayed together for my brother and I because people are educated that it's better for the children if they stay together until the children are adults. There's a few problems with that theory that need exploration. The first problem with the theory of staying together for the kids is that the children grow up learning dysfunctional patterns of behavior and repeat the cycle in adulthood, or fear they will repeat the patterns in adulthood. People don't stop to think about how important modeling is for children. I grew up in the United States of America in an English speaking family and society and as a natural consequence to that I am a native English speaker. The same can be said for a child that grows up in a family afflicted with domestic violence. During my parents' divorce my mother called up my father and told him he had ruined all our lives by the modeling he set for my brother and me. When my father told me this I explained to him that my mother was also doing some modeling and perhaps she needed to take a look at her part in not just the divorce, but any ruination of lives. Children grow up to learn what a healthy marriage looks like by what their parents put in front of them. Children learn about relationships from the adults in their lives and this is true of how men treat women, women treat men, spouses treat each other, parents treat children, and the list goes on and on. Miraculously I always felt that the marriage my parents had was dysfunctional and I didn't want any part of what they had. I am not sure who's marriage I saw as the model that I wanted for my life. I think it was my friend Adam's parents though. I didn't see Adam's parents all that often which is what makes it strange that their marriage would be the one that sticks out as the model I have chosen to embrace from childhood as to what a marriage should be. During my early childhood my mother was home and later in my childhood she had an office in the house and was working. Adam's parents both worked and they did so the entire time I can remember growing up down the road. His parents seemed to have a healthy balance of having lives as individuals and also having a life together and parenting together. It seemed to me that Adam's parents were two people that loved each other deeply and wanted to maintain their individuality while still being an item and parents to Adam and his brother. Whenever we visited for pool parties in the summer or other occasions their family seemed to be much less tense than my own. It was a really freeing experience to be at their house even when it was to celebrate things I didn't fully understand at the time like the Bar Mitzvah of both their boys. I'll admit the second time around it made more sense to me, but the first time I was so lost I didn't even know what to ask. The adults in our lives shape our view of what our own lives will be like in many ways. My parents had me so terrified of marriage I thought that anyone who would get married was insane. I couldn't understand why someone would want to do that to themselves, and both my parents worked and had 3 Fein Life Coaching http://www.thefeinlife.com/wordpress (720) 523-3346
individual lives in addition to their life together. I was distressed by the very concept of sharing one's life with another human being because I felt that it would lead to the extinguishing of my own life and that it would lead to pain and suffering. However, when I looked to Adam's family I saw a different model and I really liked to think about that model when I played with my barbies and when I thought about my life in the future. Unfortunately I didn't have enough exposure to them and others like them to be able to fully implement that model in my own life until I turned 30 which is a story I will tell in a future book. I lacked a proper model of what a relationship was to look like and I had to figure out the hard way what others seemed to learn so easily. The first problem with staying together just for the kids is that children grow up the way I did alone, scared, and unable to form relationships without a lot of hard work, at least if the relationship is to be a healthy one. The second problem with staying together for the children is that not only do the children get bad modeling on relationships they get bad modeling on their own sense of self. Children know when things aren't right in their family. Children also blame themselves when things aren't right in their family. Children watch their parents settle and think they have to settle. It hurts their ability to dream for their own lives. When I was 8 years old do you know what I wanted to be when I grow up? First I wanted to be a doctor and then my dad and his friend who was a doctor explained to me that women married doctors not became them. This was unnerving to me since it seems out of character for the value system I was raised with but this conversation combined with my inability to master Chemistry in high school led me to eventually put that dream aside and settle on other goals in the health care arena that I also failed to meet for myself. Nearly ever professional goal I set for myself I have failed to meet from being an Infectious Disease physician to an ID nurse, phd/professor, diplomat, or President of the United States. I either sabotaged myself along these career paths or let others do it for me. Where did I learn to be this way? I had settled within my personal life as well. I married a man I knew I wouldn't grow old with. I loved him for sure but I held no illusions that I would be in a nursing home with him at my side. I studied a major that wasn't my top choice at a school that was also not my top choice. Why did I believe that life was all about settling or that my lot in it was to settle or suffer? I learned this from watching my parents! Although they were both professionally fulfilled they were settling in their personal lives and I instinctively picked up on this. This dysfunctional settling combined with my role in the family system created a situation where I began to settle in my own life for things. Staying together for the children leads to bad modeling on what a relationship should look like and also what kind of life the child should have. Children may feel they need to settle in life as their parents have when they watch their parents marital tensions. The third problem with staying together for the children until they reach adulthood is a subject matter that I have spent a lot of time helping others come to terms with, there is very little support for the adult child of divorce.
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• • • • • • • •
The adult child is expected to “just get over it” and to be the confidant of one or the other of their parents. The adult child is expected to be the go between. The adult child worries about their own marriage and life dreams being ripped away from them in the aftermath. The adult child has to learn to grieve their family of origin while trying to create a new family unit for their children to interact with. The adult child is suddenly the only adult in the parent/child relationship. There are no court orders to help the adult child maintain relationships with both parents and/or keep the parents in line. The adult child is expected to behave as if nothing has happened because they are an adult. Very few professionals are trained to work specifically with this population and yet it is growing every day with the popularity of the “Grey Divorce”
This is only a partial list of the pressures that come onto the adult child when parents announce they are getting divorced. I was not surprised when my parents announced they were getting a separation and I instigated the divorce and I will never forget how bizarre the conversation was with my parents on the topic. In a lot of ways I wish my response had been different but in more ways I believe I gave the best possible advice and made the best possible choices and I really wouldn't change for anything the responses I gave to my parents over the time period. In July of 2002 I had been married for 3 years and I was living in Zeeland, Michigan. Each of my parents called me separately. My mother called me first to give me all the gossip or at least that it how it felt to me but unless she is reading this book she had no idea how inappropriate I felt she was in her phone call to me. When I got on the phone with my mother that day she said, “I want you and your brother to know this isn't your fault. I just don't want to be married anymore and we're both still your parents, it's not your fault but your father and I are getting a separation....” She went on from there and I will not recount everything that she said but it was WAY more information than I needed to have or wanted to have. My mother has always been that way though, she bad mouthed my father to me for my entire life until I finally had enough and severed my relationship with her. My mother couldn't make the transition between me being a child and me being an adult and although some of you reading this may judge me for severing ties with my entire family of origin know that choices have consequences and actions have consequences. I can live with the consequences of my choices and actions but I refuse to hold my life hostage to the choices and consequences of actions that others make. We are all individuals and we all have to be responsible for ourselves. My father called me up about 10 seconds after I hung up with my mother. My dad said, “Your mother and I have decided to separate and we're both still your parents and I guess we don't have to be married to be that.” He was heartbroken one could tell by tone but he was short and to the point. He didn't tell me why and I didn't ask. I could tell both my parents had rehearsed these calls and perhaps both of them had gone to a therapist office for advice or perhaps they thought of it on their own, they are both in the helping professions. In any event the phone calls reminded me of things you'd say to an 8 year old not to a 28 year old. Clearly whomever had given them advice had no idea about the adult child of 5 Fein Life Coaching http://www.thefeinlife.com/wordpress (720) 523-3346
divorce. Regardless I had explained to both my parents that this was not a surprise to me I had been prepared for the event for about 20 years and I hadn't really felt impacted by it because I was married with no children living 800 miles away from whatever was going on in their lives. Over the next few months my parents would each call me and try to make me confidant. Finally I told my dad that he should just get divorced instead of being separated. He sounded miserable during one of our phone calls and I told him he had another 30 years or more on this planet he shouldn't live them in misery just because of my mother's actions and decisions. I repeated this mantra and eventually my parents did get divorced, in 2005 and dad got remarried in 2006. During the entire process of my parents' divorce my mother was harassing me. Some of you may find that a strong word but it is the only word for her behavior. My mother was constantly calling me up to complain about my dad, try to get information about my dad, or try and stick me in the middle of things between her and my dad. My mother tried to make me her confidant, something that I had never been previously and I had no desire to be during this time period. When I'd refuse she'd try to guilt me or become verbally abusive towards me, I finally told her that I was her daughter not her girlfriend or her therapist! A few months into this process I was having a conversation with one my best friends, a man who saw both of his parents marry and divorce not once, but TWICE. I mentioned my frustrations about this situation and asked what he thought I should do and how he had gotten through it all. I had pretty much had it at the time although my own life hadn't yet taken the twists and turns it would eventually take. I've often imagined that he found this question to be comical, I have this image in my mind when I think about this moment of him sitting back in a chair and getting a grin on his face as he grins he replies, “Whatever you do stay out of the middle at all costs. It's not your place and it'll eat you alive.” I remember at the time thinking how easy that was and feeling as if my question had been answered without due consideration. I quickly realized how difficult a task that would be and how wise those words were! Many people in the Adult Kids of Divorce yahoogroup have seen me almost verbatim answer posts with these words of wisdom. What can I say I still hold onto my aspirations on some level and many of my aspirations require being surrounded by smart people and in some cases people smarter than me, so whenever possible I surround myself with people like that and actually ask them for their advice and use it. I know it's a novel concept but it is essential that good information get to those that need it and that is why dear reader, I have written this book just for you. So you can benefit from the struggles I have been through, the solutions I have developed and discovered, and also from the wisdom I have acquired from those that have crossed bridges before me. Like my coaching practice this book serves as a guide to those that are crossing the bridges I have already crossed. My brother on the hand was immediately destroyed by my parents' divorce. He was living at home during this time and was smack in the middle of it physically and combined with my mother's emotional blackmail games he was destroyed. My brother had always been close to my mom but during their divorce he felt he couldn't talk to her for a while. She used to call him up and leave messages like “You can't not talk to me I used to change your diapers, you OWE me talking to me.” Then he'd call me up and tell me how he hadn't been asked to be born. This put me in an awkward 6 Fein Life Coaching http://www.thefeinlife.com/wordpress (720) 523-3346
situation of having to be in the middle between my brother and mother and what was the advice given? Stay OUT of the middle. I called my mother and explained to her how her actions were inappropriate. My mother explained to me how I always excuse my brother and defend him and some other things I'd like to forget. When I held my ground she tried to explain some other things to me about how I am just like my father and when I continued to hold my ground she became angry with me and explained that my brother was an adult and he should just get over it. Mom hung up on me when I told her that was an extremely insensitive view for a therapist to take and that she seems to always believe that everyone should get over things, everyone that is except for her. It was worth it though in the end because after about the 5th time of this cycle going on she quit calling my brother up like that and now our mother babysits for my niece so clearly after the time and space between them my mother and brother are back to being two peas in a pod. This story that I have laid out before you as a summary of events without a discussion of the solutions I implemented is just that, a story that accounts the experience I had with my parents' divorce and the way it blew apart my family. The story sets the scene for the rest of the book containing solutions you can use in your own family and life. Solutions that are practical and solutions that I found sometimes too late. I became a coach in part because I noticed that there was nothing set up to help adult children of divorce and by the way parents of a divorcing couple. I realized that this was an area that needed to be helped and that my struggle and loss, and solutions to these issues could save a family or a life. You don't have to lose your family, have it blow apart, or live in the dysfunction of others. You can make different choices and I found keys that open those doors. Some of these keys I found through a lot of struggle, blood, sweat, and tears...lots of tears. Some of these keys just came to me one night, some were gifts...pearls of wisdom like the words from my friend quoted earlier in the book. No matter what you are dealing with in your parents' divorce these keys will help you out. I have tried them all in my own life and they helped me a lot and I also have clients that have changed their lives using these keys. No matter how dark it seems right now you are taking the best first step you can in reading my book. You are also not alone. In my professional life I have met many adult kids of divorce, in some surprising places. I have met some that are business coaches for example, one lawyer, and many other professions that have told me what wonderful work I do. I was asked to write an article for a divorce website on the topic of adult kids and after I posted the article everywhere that I can be found online the emails started to pour in...even from people I had no idea were struggling with these issues. I tell you this to reassure you that there is hope and that if you are the top of your game already professionally and personally you don't have to feel insecure or worry about falling from it. You can maintain being at the top of your game regardless of the situation you have going on with your parents and/or family of origin. Your parents getting a divorce doesn't mean you will. Rather than outline all the problems you can expect to face even before the announcement gets made that your family is breaking up I'm going to focus on solutions you can use at any time and in any relationship.
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I have broken this down into 5 steps and within those 5 steps I have picked out a few key solutions from my practice and life to include. If you want more detailed help please feel free to set up a consultation with me and I'll be happy to help you out. Before you begin any of these steps you need to lay the foundation. This is like building a house, the better the foundation the better your house will be. If you lay your own foundation properly you'll be in a place that others can't shake you from and believe me they will try to shake you from it. To lay your foundation you need to go through the grieving process. It is essential that you go through a grieving process because your parents divorcing is essentially the death of your family. There will no longer be Christmas dinners at your parents' house. There will be Christmas at mom's or dad's, there may even be new spouses involved. The family you knew, loved, and identified with has now left us and will be changing. These changes don't have to be bad, I have known families where they are better than they've ever been in a post divorce situation, but these are changes. Remember the story about my brother and my mother? My mother's refusal to let my brother grieve really soured their relationship for a while. My brother even told me once that our childhood had been a lie and that everything was based on a lie. I never felt that strongly within me, but my brother really felt a lot of things more intensely than I did. Like my mother said, â€œHe's an adult he should get over it.â€? Many in society will say that to you. Many friends and family members will join that chorus as well. I was laughed out of a divorce care planning committee meeting for saying that the adult child of divorce demographic needed to be represented and needed to have resources made available to it. LAUGHED out of the meeting! That really stung at the time but now I find it comical. Grieving is done in many different ways so you will want to pick the ways that work for you. At the point that you are able to close the book on the grieving part, at least in an active sense. Grief is a little bit strange in the way it can come back to us when we least expect it. Even after I thought I had been done and for a while I was grief came back to me for some things. However, you do need to afford yourself some time to honor the grief and yourself. You need to work within yourself to say good bye to the old before you can get used to and usher in the new. This is also true during positive experiences as well, such as getting married. When you get married you expect wonderful things, but you have to grieve for your life as a single person...suddenly there is someone else in the picture that you need to compromise with and accommodate.
The Aftermath: 5 Steps to Protecting Yourself Step #1 Framing Your Vision I can't stress enough the importance of this step. Many of the people I see in my practice come to me because they haven't framed a vision for their life, relationship, or whatever the issue is that they are having. Just because it is not your divorce that doesn't mean you are not affected and that you don't need to outline your vision. Your family is going to be forever changed and you need to decide for yourself what you want that family to look like and be like. 8 Fein Life Coaching http://www.thefeinlife.com/wordpress (720) 523-3346
Having said good bye to the old it is now time to decide what the new will be. This is important because you will need to set new boundaries for dealing with parents and for your parents to deal with you. It's also important because it will keep you from feeling like you need to behave a certain way if it doesn't flow with the core of your being. If we are expected to behave in ways that don't flow with our being problems occur in many shapes and sizes. So it is essential you take time to learn what the core of your being needs and incorporate that into your vision. For example the core of my being needs peace so I have incorporated as many things into my life vision that give me peace. Here's are some questions to ask yourself regarding framing your vision: What am I tolerating right now? Who do I have to become to stop tolerating these things? Where do I see myself in life and in this particular situation? What's my ideal outcome to these events? Who do I want to be? These are just some of the questions you will want to ask yourself when it comes to framing your vision. I will take one of these questions and use it to illustrate the other parts of the book so that this will make a little more sense to you. Let's take the question â€œWhat am I tolerating right now?â€? and apply it to the situation of surviving your parents' divorce. This is not an easy question to answer, but it lends itself well for illustration purposes. I am tolerating my parents trying to stick me in the middle of their conflict. Now that we've established what the toleration is we can move it through the rest of our steps to clear that toleration. Step #2 Focusing Your Path Break this down even further. I am tolerating my parents trying to stick me in the middle of their conflict. This toleration is making me really anxious and interfering with my ability to have peace in my life. I want to gradually break this down because I know that everything takes time, but I really need for this stop. So in step 2 I need to find a way to express my irritation in a healthy and constructive way to lead towards the stopping of the being put in the middle. What's the best way to do this? I get asked that question A LOT either directly or indirectly and that is why I have picked this question to illustrate the rest of the steps in this process! The answer of course is in writing. What I advise is sending an email to both parents outlining your new found boundaries and the consequences for breaking those boundaries. This way they know ahead of time if they break the boundary what the consequence will be and you will have to stick firm to enforcing those boundaries. Setting boundaries protects yourself and your relationships. It is not punishment, being mean, or 9 Fein Life Coaching http://www.thefeinlife.com/wordpress (720) 523-3346
anything else that people sometimes think it means. Setting boundaries helps everyone feel better and most of all you when you are the one setting the boundaries! Here's an example of a boundary I set with my parents. â€œI will not speak to either of you about the other parent's activities or in general. If you ask me about the other parent I will warn you once to stop. If you continue a second time in the same conversation I will remind you that I warned you once and that if you don't stop I will hang up the phone. Upon the third attempt to engage me in conversation about the other parent in one phone call I will hang up the phone. I love both of you as my parents, but you do not have the right to involve me in your drama.â€? My mother used to push me on this constantly and I would just hang up the phone. Eventually we severed ties in no small part due to her inability to have a conversation with me that didn't involve my father as a topic. My mother told me it was unacceptable for me to hang up on her, so I continued to hang up and I let her go to voice mail for longer each time. Another boundary for me is that since I am an adult no one gets to tell me what is unacceptable. I teach clients to set boundaries for themselves as well as for others. My boundary regarding no one will tell me what is unacceptable is an internal boundary which I have worded as an external boundary for simplicity here. More information on internal boundary setting will be in a future book and can also be obtained during a consultation. Boundary setting is not the only solution but given the importance of it and the way it lends itself to being a prime illustration I am using it here to illustrate your 5 Steps. Once I have told you about the steps I will include some other techniques for getting through this time. Focusing your path requires you to have your vision completed and then examine where you currently are as it relates to the vision. I usually explain it as you are going on vacation and you have picked the place you want to go now you need to figure out how you'll get there. Same principle applies here. Step #3 Forging Your Trail Once you have framed your vision and focused your path you need to forge your trail. Let's continue this exercise with the idea of setting the boundary that we started in Step 2 as it relates to not being stuck in the middle of drama between parents. Forging your trail requires you to start preparing what actions you will be taking to bring the vision to reality, remember this example sets the vision as having peace in your life and the first boundary we are setting is not being stuck in the middle. How important is this boundary to you? My suggestion is as my friend told me to guard this boundary at all cost and make it the highest priority. Some people have a hard time with this because it may come to a point where you need to hang up on a parent or leave a family gathering in order to keep this boundary. Are you prepared for that and the fall out of doing so? Let's assume that you are, but it is something you need to sort out and during this step you will weigh some of these things out and make your list of boundaries and consequences while adding in the enforcement mechanism. Using the boundary of not being stuck in the middle. When you outline these to your own parents you will use only the option of â€œyou can not stick me in the middle and I will happily talk to you or if you 10 Fein Life Coaching http://www.thefeinlife.com/wordpress (720) 523-3346
continue to try sticking me in the middle (and then pick one consequence you can live with that preserves your boundary).â€? Doing this not only preserves the boundary but it limits the choices to 2. Anything more than 2 choices and it will be overwhelming for your parent. Think about it, if you were in a store that had only a red shirt or a blue shirt you'd buy one or the other, but if the store had shirts in different colors you'd feel overwhelmed and not know what color shirt to buy...has anyone really heard of Chartreuse or Sea Foam Green? Can't we just have yellow and green? Now everything has many colors to it and people get overwhelmed with the choices. The same is true when you are setting boundaries. The fewer choices the easier it is not only for you to enforce your own boundaries but for your parents to choose the consequence they wish to have. Examine the table below and feel free to use it as a template to make your own. Boundary Set
Not being in the middle Will continue conversation w/out other parent as topic
Importance to Me
Will walk out of the room or hang up the phone.
You can see above there are only 2 choices and I can live with either consequence in the table. It is extremely important to me to keep this boundary. When I had trouble with this particular boundary I actually compiled lists of consequences and picked the ones that would correct the behavior the fastest like hanging up the phone. I then emailed my parents a nice note with my statement that I am happy to talk to them about any other topic however the topic of the parent was off limits, but that is something you will examine more closely in step 4. Step 3 is just a preparation step to get you in the right mental space to start putting the boundaries in place. Many people have trouble with setting boundaries because they don't know what they want their boundaries to be. This step helps clarify that for you and also allows you to check and make sure that your boundaries are in line with bringing alignment to your vision and actions. It is essential that your vision and actions come into alignment. If your vision is to keep your parents close and not be stuck in the middle you may want to find other consequences, I know for myself I needed to sacrifice intimacy with my parents to keep out of the middle. Be sure that the vision you set is your vision and not your parents' vision or someone else's vision. Only you can decide what you want. Step #4 Following Your Signs The next step is to follow your signs where you actually implement these action plans that you have put out in the previous steps. You take the table you have put together and you pick the consequences to outline to your parents, you put deadlines in there, and you stand firm when your boundaries are encroached upon. This is the step where you are really stuffing crazy in a box. This is where you are actually deciding how to put it in the box to return it. Will you return it by hanging up the phone? Leaving a family 11 Fein Life Coaching http://www.thefeinlife.com/wordpress (720) 523-3346
dinner? Some other form of return to sender label? Only you can determine these things but in this particular step you will take action. Step #5 Feinally Arrive In Step 5 you will continue the previous steps with additional skills you have picked up along the way and you will create new boundaries for yourself. This is also the step where you can look back and be in awe of how far you have come. Some people never make it this far, in fact a lot of people never make it this far because they are so entrenched in the old and the dysfunction, but remember you don't have to live that way. You can make different choices and decide for yourself what you want your life to look like. You can even create the life you want and even if I am not the coach for you there is one that can help you. Course I am the only coach I know that works specifically with adult kids of divorce. After your F5 Tornado now what? I get asked all the time about what to do once you've learned the 5 steps included in the F5 system, or what to do after the F5 Tornado. The system is named for the tornado actually, it comes in and sweeps out the bad and leaves you with the good. Much like tornadoes sweep through and take things, but the system is more than that. It teaches you about your power and resiliency in the face of such difficult situations such as a parental divorce. Once you have mastered the concepts you can apply them to all situations and relationships. I wanted to outline them for you before discussing things such as myths about parental divorce, common mistakes in implementing the F5 System, my personal philosophy related to parental divorce that has helped me and many others get through parental divorce, and some other common issues you may experience. I only used one to illustrate how you'd use the system but very often there are other issues that come along with the divorce of parents. First let's examine common mistakes when implementing the F5 system and ways you can compensate for them if you find yourself experiencing them. Name of Step
Framing Your Vision
Not Specific Enough
Be thorough in your focus.
Make sure you check each part for completeness at this step.
Trying to complete out of order
Be sure your sub steps and steps are both in order. Everything will work in order but will not out of it.
Not being Honest Enough
Take an honest inventory of what you want and how to get there, not what someone else wants.
Focusing Your Path
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Forging Your Trail
Following Your Signs
Remember simple is best.
Not sure where to begin
Start with the part that is most important to you.
Remind Yourself that You Can't Move Forward Sitting Around!
Too many steps
Combine some smaller steps into bigger ones if you feel there are too many steps.
Expecting too much too fast
Be gentle with yourself everything takes time.
Steps out of order
Be sure you are following the proper order and if you find it is out of order go back.
Not tracking actions
List your accomplishments every day. You will feel better and it will inspire you to make more actions.
Incomplete Goal Setting
Review your goals to be sure you have a complete goal to work with.
Thinking it's over
Remember you have just begun learning to work with your new paradigms.
Not internalizing new paradigm. Internalizing your new paradigms will greatly improve your life. If you are having trouble with this examine why you feel resistance. This is just a sampling of common mistakes and if you have seen my work before you know that in different context there are different mistakes that one can make. I have outlined for you some general common mistakes, but there are things that happen specific to a parental divorce with I think are work exploring. Here are some common myths regarding adult kids of divorce that you should keep in mind when going through your own experience followed by the actual facts of the experience.
The Way Things Aren't!: Mythology Myth #1 You're an Adult So It Doesn't Affect You I have decided to start with this myth because it is the most common and the most destructive myth out 13 Fein Life Coaching http://www.thefeinlife.com/wordpress (720) 523-3346
there related to the topic of the AKOD experience. I am not sure what the history of this myth is as it has quite an ancient history to it. I remember when I was a child my father telling a story about a couple who divorce in their 90s and upon being asked why they waited so long the wife replies, “We were waiting for the children to die.” This story is somewhat comical in that parents don't expect to bury their children, but it is poignant in that it recognizes that children are affected by whatever goes on in their parents lives so long as they breathe. This goes back to my original point of not knowing the history of this myth. Many times during my own experience as an AKOD my mother would tell me that I should “get over it” and that my brother “should not be so affected” by these events. I wasn't impacted in the same way my brother was, but for my brother it turned his entire world upside down. As a human being who cares about your parents and the rest of your family you will certainly feel some impact from their life events. There is no right or wrong effect or level of effect. I have met some AKODs that came through with barely a scratch so to speak and others that have had their lives shredded. Neither event is abnormal, though I believe that somewhere in between is where most people fall. As individuals we can do things to minimize the effect our parents life events have on us or to change our responses to the effects that these events bring, but we cannot eliminate it in it's entirety. It is important to keep that in your own mind because others will give you the standard line of “get over it.” Before I get into minimization of this myth I'd like to take some time to explore this myth with you a little bit. This is a myth that is designed to let parents off the hook and to make them feel better. This is not a myth that has anything to do with children, at least not in any meaningful and positive way. What makes this particular myth so destructive is the popularity of it and the way it is used outside of the family to make the adult child feel badly about their normal emotional response to an event. As much as people want to pretend that the life event is only related to the couple divorcing it affects their entire family, including parents and children. No one ever goes to a funeral and tells the grieving children, “You shouldn't be affected by this, get over it.” I have never seen that done anyway. I have heard people give sympathy or tell the child that it'll be OK and not to cry so much about the loss of the parent, or on some occasions I have also seen people discuss how wonderful the deceased was and what a loss it is for humanity. However, when parents simply decide not to be married anymore there's a completely different view taken. Going through a divorce whether it is your own or not is very much like grieving. The adult child is in the predicament of not being party to the divorce directly and so the loss is not acknowledged, but there is a death. The death of the childhood family, often the selling of the childhood home, and certainly the holidays will never be the same especially if there are new spouses involved. New spouses that often come as the result of infidelities and then are addressed by the outside world as the “step-parent.” They are not the step parent, they are the spouse of the parent that is now remarried and very often have very little involvement with the adult child and certainly have no parenting involvement with the adult child. It is OK to correct people when they call your parent's spouse your step parent and I do so on a regular basis. If you are comfortable with them being addressed that way that's OK too, but don't feel like other people have the right to define you or your 14 Fein Life Coaching http://www.thefeinlife.com/wordpress (720) 523-3346
relationships. This is the first reason that this myth is so destructive, it dismisses the grieving process and tries to make it look like something is wrong with you for feeling distressed about what is going on around you. The second reason it is so destructive is that it shifts the child into the parent role. Many AKODs have told me inside my practice and outside of my practice that they feel they are having to parent their parents who are now adult children. This is a direct result of several of these myths, but I believe is rooted in this myth here. If the adult child is not affected by the events of the divorce than they are free to parent the adult who often doesn't have a parent figure alive anymore, or who is incapable of dealing with their own grief and would rather just put their head in the sand. This role shift destroys both parties on several levels and for brevity I won't go into all of them, but the adult child is destroyed more than the parent ends up being destroyed. This is because the child's loss is not acknowledged or validated. The child is expected to be strong for the parent and to carry the parent's water. This leads directly into myth #2 but also into other destruction in the life of the child. In some cases the child ends up getting their own divorce because they are so wrapped up in their parents drama that they can't take care of their own obligations. Your parents getting divorced will affect your life but you can decide how much it affects your life and what your response is to it. Some ways to minimize this particular myth's impact on your life: • •
Find other AKODs to support you during this difficult time. Set firm boundaries with the world and stick to them, including your parents. Force them to talk to each other and don't answer questions about how they are living their lives when asked by people outside your family. Stay out of the middle!
If you feel it necessary seek out a therapist to talk to about your emotions, be aware a lot of them aren't trained specifically on AKOD issues but several therapists have told me that they see quite a few of us!
Take the time to return to your own life dreams and create a vision for what you want your life to look like in your post grief world. This will give you something to look forward to.
Remember that you don't have to talk to anyone about anything you don't wish to. Voltaire once said, “Part of being an adult means not having to tell everyone everything” in Candid and this is quite true, although people will not like it that you do this it is only about you and not someone else.
Myth #2 You're now the best friend/therapist of your parents 15 Fein Life Coaching http://www.thefeinlife.com/wordpress (720) 523-3346
This myth is placed in the second one because this one branches off from the previous myth, if it doesn't affect you then you should be the therapist and confidant, go between of your parents right? WRONG! Anyone who has been through this experience will tell you that this myth generally starts in the mind of the parent or someone close to the parent, but it sometimes starts with the child as well who doesn't want to see a parent in pain. This is not to say that children shouldn't be on good terms with their parents or that they can't be friends. Some parents and children are very close but when it comes to issues of the divorce this topic should not be put onto the child's shoulder. The child should not be expected to be the go between or listen to the bad mouthing of one parent, or in many cases choose sides. Even as an adult the adult child has the right to a relationship with both parents, this is often forgotten in a divorce but when everyone is an adult there is a sense of entitlement that because the child is now an adult they can hear all about mom's infidelity or dad's gambling problem. The reality is these statements still hurt the adult because the adult is still a child of the couple which is why you see child and adult used the way you do in this guidebook. The problem with this myth is outlined a bit in the previous one the adult child is forced to carry all the problems of the parent divorcing and to have all the answers and this in turn destroys their ability to have their own life and to be able to go through their own process. It is important for everyone affected by the divorce the parents, siblings, children, and friends of the couple to be able to go through their own process. This myth completely destroys that ability and with it destroys the people involved, especially the one taking on therapist role. This myth typically rears it's ugly head in mother/daughter relationships, but it can also run amok in any relationship including ones with fathers or sons as well or child in laws. Ways to minimize this myth's impact on your life: • • • • • •
Find a good therapist for your parent to talk to. Tell your parent that you understand they are going through a lot of pain but that it's inappropriate to stick you in the middle of it. If necessary take a break from communicating with the parent that is trying to put you in therapist role until they stop or until you get help with fending it off. Place the priority on your current family structure and life and let your parents work out this situation without your involvement. Find a new hobby to explore and then do so. Change what things mean when people say them to you.
Myth #3 You Don't Have the Right to have ANY feelings This is perhaps my favorite myth because of how ridiculous the concept is and how much it reminds me of my own childhood experience. It is often believed that children don't have any rights, let alone rights to emotions and so when they become adults and the same idea is present I find the idea ridiculous. Perhaps it should be worded as people don't have the right to any feelings and that would 16 Fein Life Coaching http://www.thefeinlife.com/wordpress (720) 523-3346
still be ridiculous in my mind, but less so because it would more accurately reflect what people who espouse this are really trying to get at. This is a myth about selfishness and about how no one has feelings but the person who is having whatever the feeling is. This is typically the myth used to justify how the other parent has no right to be angry as well or sad. It's dangerous because people that use it as justification for their own selfishness are typically using the other myths listed to completely destroy anyone that comes near their life and that includes the adult child. We are all humans and as such we all have the right to our own emotions and our own life experience. When someone tells us that we don't this is not only a grab for power in our lives, but it is abusive. No one has the right to abuse anyone and on that I think we can all agree :) You have the right to your emotions whatever they may be, but you should check them and make sure they are rational, relevant to you, and that they are not ruling you. If your emotions are ruling you then you will bring about myth #4 and you will also bring about many other bad things that no one needs to experience. If your emotions are ruling you then you need to see a therapist to find ways to bring them back into a managed state. Sometimes this happens because we get overwhelmed and sometimes there are other factors involved. Remember that this is a huge change and in order to get through it you have to respond and not react and you must respond from a place of non-emotion otherwise you will fall victim to this myth and you may even start to believe it yourself. Feelings are an emotional response to a stimulus. They are neither right or wrong, good or bad. It is what we do with the feelings that can make or break our experiences. You should not allow people inside or outside your family to tell you that you have no right to your feelings. How would they like it if you told them that? Ways to minimize this myth: • When someone tells you that you have no right to your feelings explain to them how interesting that is and ask them to explain further. • Write a journal of your feelings so that you can express them away from others. • When you express your emotions in public do so in a very calm way. • Remember that showing no emotion would also make people wonder about you. • Honor yourself and your limits. Myth #4 Your Parents' Divorce has Sealed Your Own Fate When I speak to adult children of divorce I am often struck by how many of them think that the fact that their parents got divorced means that they too will get divorced. It doesn't have to be that way. As I am often known for saying we don't have to live in the dysfunction of others or take it into our own selves. Parents getting a divorce doesn't mean that you will get one any more than a parent getting into a car accident means you will, or that a parent losing their job means that you will. It is scary to think of people that have lived a married life for so long separating of course, but it doesn't mean that you will 17 Fein Life Coaching http://www.thefeinlife.com/wordpress (720) 523-3346
have the same experience. This myth especially comes up when we are forced to look at our parents through their own lives. Maybe they are getting divorced because there was infidelity and we are married to someone who works late often, the mind starts to wander and now you are suspicious of your spouse. It also comes up when we have to be therapist and best friend and deny ourselves in the process. We spend so much time dealing with our parents and their problems that our own family goes down the drain with it. Marriages break up for lots of different reasons and marriages stay together for many different ones as well and what happens in someone else's marriage doesn't mean yours will have the same result. It is important to keep that in mind when dealing with all these events. My mother used to tell me the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree and my response was always to tell a story about a tree on a hill and the acorn rolling down, it worked even better when she switched to the apple! The truth is sometimes acorns and apples DO move far away from the tree for lots of reasons, maybe a child picks you up in the basket and takes you home...who knows, but the apple doesn't die near the tree! Ways to minimize this myth: • Keep perspective! Many marriages fail and many don't. • Remember that many children lead different lives than their parents. • Create the life you want to have and stick to that vision. • Look at what's happening in your life and give that priority over anything else. Myth #5 It's the End of the World The adult child often feels alone, isolated, and as if this is the end of the world. My brother put it best when he called me up one day and said, “Everything we knew was a lie. Our entire childhood was built on a lie. Our lives are a lie, our happiness was a lie!” This not an uncommon reaction to the divorce of a parent. This is especially true when it is improperly grieved. Every day is a new beginning and we make our own future lives. This situation with your parents may feel like the end of the world, but it is not. It is a new beginning and it is important to remember that without an ending we can't have new beginnings. It is important to honor the ending part, your parents may marry other individuals. Your holiday visits to mom and dad have now ended, your childhood home may have been sold and it may feel like your life has been based on a lie. However you are still going to work in the morning and your children are still being born, playing baseball and piano. Your world has changed but not ended. It is easy to feel like it is the end of the world if you don't control your surroundings and if you give in to the other myths that are common to the AKOD experience. You can make different choices and you can decide what this new world will look like. Ways to minimize this myth: • Connect with others that have been through this before and see that their world has not ended. • Connect with a coach to help you set your goals and use my F5 system as a good starting point. • Write your own book to help others see light at the end of the tunnel. • Honor your parents by handing them back their own issues and not taking them into yourself. 18 Fein Life Coaching http://www.thefeinlife.com/wordpress (720) 523-3346
Protect what you have in your own life.
Myth #6 You HAVE to feel a certain way Another famous myth is that you must feel a certain way. I can remember my brother being extremely angry with me that I didn't share his emotional experience and this has happened to me with other adult kids of divorce as well. There's an attitude that because person A feels this way all people do and person B doesn't there's something wrong with person B. Emotions are like eye color, everyone's a different and even within the colors there are different shades. Sadness may look one way with one person a differently with another or someone may feel sad and someone else may feel angry. It doesn't matter the emotional experience is as unique to you as your fingerprints are. It is yours and it doesn't have to match anyone else's, even blue eyes have different shades. Ways to minimize this myth: • Remind yourself that people have different emotional responses. • Ask other AKODs how they have felt. • Honor your own response and don't compare it to others for intensity or rightness. • Allow yourself the freedom to have emotions. Myth #7 All AKOD experiences are the same This myth is tricky because it is a little bit true and a little bit not true. All AKODs have the same experience in that they are over the age of 18 when their parents get divorced. The circumstances, emotions, and issues are all different to the individual. Just like parents divorce for different reasons one's reaction to the news and the process will be different. Not every myth mentioned here is present in every divorce, these are just common myths that I have noticed over time in my experience with my parents' divorce and with helping others through their own experience. Parents that don't make their child a therapist while rare, do exist and the children that live that experience have a much different one than the child that is trying to figure out how not to be therapist while mom is crying. This is just an example of how things can change from divorce to divorce. Some parents don't remarry which means the issue of what to call the new spouse never comes up, and of course infidelity is not always a factor in a divorce which brings different emotions up when a new spouse does enter the picture post divorce. Many of these things just depend on the circumstances, people who live at home when their parents get divorced have a very different experience than people like me who were 800 miles away from the drama at the time. Whatever your experience honor it entirely as your own and don't feel that you need to have had my experience or that of my brother. I have written this book as a tool to help all AKODs everywhere with their experience not to make clones of myself. Ways to minimize: 19 Fein Life Coaching http://www.thefeinlife.com/wordpress (720) 523-3346
• • •
Don't read this book or any other one with the idea that this will tell you what to experience. This and other books are tools to help not to mold. Don't make yourself feel less than if your experience is different than someone else. Give yourself time to process things and remember that your experience over time may change.
Myth #8 You will never be the same It's not uncommon for you to feel that you will never be the same now that your family of origin has broken down. However, this is not the case. Many times people feel that their entire world has been shattered (myth #9) and that they will never be able to repair it. Reality is that once you grieve the loss and you determine what your new life will look like you will find that not only are you the same person in the core of your being, but you feel better and the energy flow is better. It is as if the grieving process has not only mended your soul but has brought you out into a more authentic self. Being more authentic to yourself is the root of everything feeling better. Don't be afraid to be yourself and to give yourself the permission to be yourself and make your own decisions. This is a unique time of transition for you, it is almost like being a teenager again and we all know how awful that time period was, at least it was for me and I feel now like I've had to go through it 3 times in my life! Ways to Minimize this myth: • Project your life about 1 year out, the first year is the hardest and it gets easier after that, plus 1 year out you will have been living your new life and will be comfortable with the techniques. • If your copy of the book has a bonus in it then redeem it. • Plan for a life that makes YOU happy, not your parents and not anyone else, just you. • Give yourself the time and space necessary for healing to occur. Myth #9 Your entire world has Just Shattered When my brother called me to tell me that everything we had been raised with was a lie he was living in the space of this myth. This myth rears its ugly head quite often in the experience of others and fortunately I never fell prey to it, but if you are in the throws of it don't feel any shame or start secong guessing yourself, you are not alone. I believe this is a common experience because when you are placed in the position of some of these other myths and experiencing all the transitions/turbulence that comes with it, the light at the end of the tunnel often gets lost. This has a lot of similarities with what I said about myth #8 and the whole idea of never being the same again. Reality in this myth is that your world has changed, not shattered. The world for your parents may have shattered. The world that you knew is gone, but it is not shattered. You are still yourself and you are still the child of your parents. Your world only shatters if you allow others to take the power in your life and that is something that is always a destructive choice to make. Ways to Minimize: 20 Fein Life Coaching http://www.thefeinlife.com/wordpress (720) 523-3346
• • • • •
Remember YOU are NOT Alone. Find others to talk to about your common experiences. Look for strategies to head off challenges at the pass or overcome them as necessary. Create a support system that allows you to build your post grief life and still keep as much of your old life as possible. Keep perspective and don't allow someone else to get in the way of your own person hood.
Myth #10 You are now having a second childhood This is a common myth that the new spouse brings in when they come on the scene and want to be the “step parent.” You don't have to have a second childhood and you're not having a second childhood. Yes, it is a time of transition and yes it may feel like you are a teenager again, but you are still an adult entitled to live your own life. When my father got remarried his wife took it upon herself to revise my childhood for me in great favor of my dad, leaving out how he forgot to pick me up from practice and other events that shaped me and hurt me. This woman still refuses to accept that she doesn't have the right to do this, but I have decided that I will not accept her revisions and that she has no right to do this. I have decided this because I am an adult. A parent is someone that comes into your life when you are a child and loves you and takes care of you. For the same reason that I have never called an in-law mom or dad I will not refer to my father's wife as my step mother, she is my father's wife. Parents fall into this trap as well when they start trying to get the adult to be the go between and listen to bad mouthing of the other parent etc. They pretend that it's because you're an adult now and can hear these things, but it's really just a way of keeping an adult from being an adult. The evidence for this is if you bad mouth the other parent to them or call them on their own stuff the response is something along the lines of how unacceptable it is for you as the child to bring those points up. You are an adult, you don't have to do anything for anyone other than yourself and you don't have to have a second childhood just because it's good for one or the other of your parents. Ways to Minimize: • Set healthy and firm boundaries and STICK to them. • Remind your parents that you are an adult and that you direct your own life. • Remind yourself of your directorship. • Keep in mind that people who feel you are having a second childhood may in fact be transferring their issues onto you. Myth #11 Boundary Setting is Unacceptable and Mean Setting boundaries is not only acceptable but necessary. Many people think that setting boundaries is mean and unacceptable. This view is formed for them when they are children and their parents tell them that it's mean or unacceptable to set boundaries for the parent. This seems to be prevalent during teen years for example.
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However, parents set boundaries for their children and they are not mean or unacceptable from the parent point of view to do so, perhaps for the child's view it is different. Setting boundaries is done to protect a child, a relationship, a person, a pet, etc. It is done from a place of love and when I remind my clients that are parents of their setting boundaries for their children being both acceptable and necessary they tend to soften about the topic in other areas of their lives. People set boundaries all the time at the office and in other places as well without even thinking about it. At the grocery store for example they don't use someone else's cart. This is a boundary that is set, it is of course a normal boundary that no one thinks about, but it is a boundary none the less. Another boundary that is often set is with friends. Friends may let a friend borrow a car, but request that it be returned in the morning with a full tank and if it's not then they don't lend the car again. No one thinks of this as being mean or unacceptable. Boundary setting within the family is just as important if not more so. It is very important that people set appropriate boundaries in order to feel at ease with themselves and with each other. I recommend setting internal and external boundaries because both are necessary, after all we don't control everyone and everything only ourselves. Minimize this myth by: • Determining what is irritating you and setting boundaries around it. • Remind yourself of how good it feels to not have that irritation in your life. • Think about how amazing it will be when you can just zap irritants in your life. • Don't negotiate your boundaries with others. • Don't discuss your boundaries with others, except those that they are for. • Enforce your boundaries without fear and guilt. • Remind yourself of the ultimate goal. Common Issues Affecting the AKOD experience: Although there are many aspects of the AKOD experience that are specific to the individual there are some very common and universal themes that present themselves, as outlined in the section on myths. There are also some common issues that impact the AKOD experience. These are issues that are not always universal, but do come up quite a bit. If you experience these issues please know that many of these things are a normal part of the AKOD experience. If you don't experience some of these issues please not what I have previously said these issues are not universal they are only common. What is universal is the need to adjust to a changed family setting and to see yourself and your family in a new way. • • • • • •
Being Stuck In the Middle Feeling Alone/Isolated Confusion Reacting to an infidelity as if you were the one cheated on Lack of ability to accept a significant other of your parent Fear about what this means for your own life.
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• • • • • • • • • • • •
Anxiety Overly Concerned about One or the other parent Adult Parental Alienation Overwhelm Parenting an adult parent Anger Hurt Shame Blaming of self Grief Depression Inability to trust
A good therapist or a good coach can help you deal with these challenges. In many cases both are helpful, a therapist to help heal the past and a coach to help build the future. Whatever you decided to do remember that you don't need to carry these and other issues alone. I have chosen to list just the few common ones I have seen, but there are many issues that are just based on the individual experience that is unique to you. Some AKODs find it helpful to take medication during this time period and that is a perfectly valid assessment if that is what you feel you need. It is important to know that you have the permission to make the best decisions for you, doesn't matter what a good decision is for someone else make good decisions for you and for your life.
Respond or React? Several different points make up my personal philosophy for dealing with the AKOD experience, whether it is my own or that of someone else. It is important for you to develop your own as you embark on this journey and use mine as a guide or as an assistance to you as you need to. Your own philosophy will form your ability to cope with the changes that are happening in your own family and keep you from losing your mind about it, and believe me if you don't form a philosophy you can easily lose your mind about things. My philosophy didn't develop over time like most philosophies do, or at least I don't remember it doing so. I remember that after I got the call that my parents were separating I decided in that moment a few points that coalesced to form the foundation of my philosophy. The first point being that I am an individual in my own right. I do want my parents to have good things in their lives and I do want my life to have good things in it, but I feel that my individuality must be preserved at all cost and that good things in my life are more important to me. If that makes me selfish I am OK with that because if I don't direct my life and take care to have good things in my life than no one else will. My individuality endows me with certain unalienable rights, just like the Declaration of Independence says. I take very seriously that I have the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and other rights as well. I believe that this not only includes situations where I am dealing with the government but also when dealing with other people as well. The Constitution doesn't allow for my parents to search my 23 Fein Life Coaching http://www.thefeinlife.com/wordpress (720) 523-3346
things for example, any more than it does for the police to do so on a randomized basis. However, when I was under 18 my parents continually told me that the Constitution didn't apply to children and now that I am an adult I thoroughly enjoy using it when dealing with my parents and others. One of the rights I have is the right to my own life. This means that I don't have to be stuck in the middle of problems with my parents and I don't need to be dealing with their crazy making behavior. I can have peace in my life and design my life how I want it to be. I have the right to tell my parents to deal with their own problems, just like I used to encourage my own children to settle conflicts amongst themselves. I find myself having to teach other AKODs how to assert the right to their own life. It is difficult to express to our parents that we have this right when they are hurting and want us to help them, but it is necessary. We can lose our own life by becoming absorbed in their chaos if we don't look at our own situations and take care of ourselves. The foundation point of my philosophy is that I have the right to my own life and to be my own person. Without this point all other points will fall. If I give up this right then nothing will be able to be built on the foundation. I appreciate that my parents brought me to this world and formed my body, but now that I am here and an adult I have the right to live my life in peace and tranquility. The next point that is also part of the foundation is that I have complete freedom over my time and choices. The framework of my philosophy which I place upon this foundation takes it one step further. If I have complete freedom over my time and my choices that means I am in the director seat and I need to make sure that I fully understand what the choices are that I am making and how they affect my life. When I make choices, even choices that look to be impulsive to an outsider I do so after a lot of consideration about what the results are and what the impact of those results are on my life and those around me. A decision that negatively impacts me in a way that doesn't align with my values I will not make for example and the prime examination is around this particular issue. The result must align with my values and impact me in a way that I can tolerate if nothing else, I prefer of course positive outcomes but as we all know positives aren't always what we get. Choices that align with my values and reflect who I am combined with my having the complete freedom of what choices I make and the timing of them are essential to my philosophical parts on dealing with many issues in life. However they would be useless without a mechanism for dealing with other people and the outside world that comes with them. This part of my philosophy forms the roof of the philosophical house.
It is fitting that the roof part is the part dealing with the outside because that is really what a roof does. Walls and foundations do this as well, but to a lesser extent. I often use house building analogies because they work so well for making these concepts simple. When dealing with the outside world we need to have all the parts of the philosophy together. The first ones of course dealing with ourselves, but the rest dealing with the outside world. When you are right with yourself it is much easier to deal with the outside and this is why the foundation and framework both deal with the internal regulation of self. 24 Fein Life Coaching http://www.thefeinlife.com/wordpress (720) 523-3346
The external is much more difficult in some ways and easier in others. We need to have balance however between self regulation and external regulation in order for things to work well. Balance is really the key point here. The first shingle to the outside world part of this philosophy is that I can't control the actions of others. This is the centerpiece of anything that deals with the outside world. I can influence, but I can't control and when I remember this point I do much better than if I don't. The second shingle is that I need to respond not react to things. There is a huge difference between these two words and people use them as if they are the same. In Physics for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This reaction is not measured, reasoned, thought out, or anything other than pure chemistry...or for a human pure instinct. A response however is very different from a reaction. When you learn to respond instead of react things get much easier to manage. Here are some examples of how this concept plays out: Let's say your mom calls and tries to force you into being a go between with your father and you've just come home from work, you're exhausted and you want someone to ask how you are. Life is tough out there let's face it! Now that I have set the scene let me give you a sample conversation: Mom: “Hi honey, I was just calling to find out if you know if your dad will be in town this weekend or not?” You Reacting: “Why do you keep doing this to me? I keep asking you to stop but you won't stop!” Conversation from here deteriorates and everyone feels hurt. You Responding INSTEAD of Reacting: “Mom, I'd love to help you with this but I don't have the time to do so right now. I just walked in the door and you know what that's like don't you? Can't you call dad and ask him?” The conversation MIGHT still completely deteriorate but at least you have made an effort to change the situation. Reacting is based on instinct and natural language/habit/desire but typically coming from that place lead to more misunderstanding, conflict, and problems in general. Those that have response instead of a reaction end up in a much better situation because they have thought about and calculated what words they are going to use and the like. It comes from a less emotional and more logical place and will get better results due to the lack of emotion. Lack of emotion means that there is less opportunity to be manipulated into feeling guilty or by what I have named the Emotional Blackmail Game. Most people will just react so when you come from a place of response and power instead of a place of reaction you will knock people off their game with the element of surprise. Surprise is an important tool especially when dealing with the issues of an AKOD. We can use any number of issues for this, but I am using issues for the sake of illustrations here. Feel free to apply this and anything else in this book in a broader way into your life. 25 Fein Life Coaching http://www.thefeinlife.com/wordpress (720) 523-3346
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This is an ebook that I put together to help other Adults who suddenly find themselves dealing with parents that are getting divorced. It is...