I'm an adult, why am I getting dragged into my parents' divorce??
That of course is the refrain I keep repeating.
Quick background. Parent A is my biological parent, who has manipulative and controlling tendancies. Parent B is a step-parent who avoids confrontation to a measure never before seen. Parent B left. Their relationship has been circling the drain for a bit, mostly due to lack of communication on both their sides. Parent A holds grudges, has scathing outburts, or cold-shoulders for a week at a time. Parent B doesn't communicate AT ALL, total avoidance of confrontation.
I told both parties I was not going to pick sides, I was neutral, the divorce has nothing to do with me and I was not going to be forced to choose. Parent B is ok with this. Parent A is ok with this...sometimes. Sometimes Parent A goes off the deep end, pulls up stuff from years ago, demands I pick sides, brings up the blood-thicker-than-water stuff, and winds up making me feel like a POS.
I have something coming up in a few months that is important to me, let's call it an award ceremony of some importance. I knew it was coming and had been happily discussing plans for both to come (as a couple), the fun things we could do, etc, prior to them going Splitsville. Now Parent A has supposedly bought tickets and I've found lodging, etc, for Parent A. Parent B plans to attend but stay in a different town and drive over day-of, to keep the peace. Every other conversation with Parent A ends with if I don't uninvite Parent B, Parent A won't be attending. My stress level has gone from "gee I hope I don't trip on stage, ha ha" to "Hmmm I might need medication..."
My plan is to remain firm on not picking sides.
Share your horror stories. I know there's no advice, I just want to vent. Let's hear the crazy!!
OK, A) Your parents made their oil-and-water communication styles work... until it didn' no mo'. Not your business.
B) You do have the right to ask them to each all a short truce and join you at this event that you guys have been planning since before the break-up (which was perhaps always going to happen) actually did.
The Key Point:
You need to ask Parent A and Parent B to tolerate some discomfort and show up for you In Different Ways.
Parent B script: "Look, I know A could make this event a PITA for you. I'll do my best to rein that in. But can you just show up to do the right thing for me even if it's not perfect with the Ex?"
Parent A script: "Look, I want both of you there and right now, you are the one preventing that. So I'm asking you point blank to cut it out for this one event. Can't/won't? Well, I'm sorry to learn that our relationship is less important than your divorce. We'll be parent and child long after this is over, so can't you show up "right' for this one day/"
Here's what you need to know about Parent A: This kind of person wants connection and intimacy. If he/she can't get that as love, he/she will settle for intimacy in the form of fighting. Peace or "putting on a civil face" counts as self-abandonment. He/she just gave up the one last strategy that might have worked to get any kind of connection. So your taking the high road and refusing to take sides will make him/her crazy.
"It takes one to know one." I have been like your bellicose Parent A.
Good luck to you. Don't try to fix them. Don't try to change Parent A's behavior permanently. Don't assume that the non-confrontational parent is the good guy, has no power or doesn't know where Parent A's buttons are and gets some thrill from pushing those by refusing to communicated. Just get done what you want for that one day.
Dear Abby and other advice columnists have repeatedly said that in this situation that you both of them know that the other is coming (which you have), and that you tell them you expect adult behavior, and that you won't choose between them, and that if they come they have to act like adults (no sniping, no stupid behavior, no whining, and no scenes).
If they can't do that, then they don't come, and if they both come then it's not your place to play referee, and the first one who acts badly will be told to leave. One is obviously trying to manipulate you, and force you to choose, and if you do it will only be the beginning of this scenario.
My parents divorced each other twice, the second time when I was an adult. The second time, I was an adult. Follow JanM's advice to the T. If she does not want to come because Parent B is coming, well, her loss.
I know it is really hard, but hold strong that this is not your divorce and you won't get dragged into it. I really wound up in the middle of it, and it was very painful and damaging to my mother and I's relationship. People show their worst in a divorce, and you don't need to see that side of them. That's my best advice on the situation in general.
I'm divorced and married to a divorced man and have both biological and stepchildren, two of them young adults.
Stand your ground. Invite them both, let them both know they are welcome and stand back and let them behave how they will. If Parent A chooses not to come because Parent B is there, they have NO ONE to blame but themself. Do not let Parent A make you feel bad because they make an immature, selfish, choice. Parent A is engaging in emotional blackmail and that's playing dirty, I won't have it and neither should you. A biological relationship is not carte blanche to act like a baby and make your kids miserable. Blood is not "thicker than water", whatever that is supposed to mean, it doesn't even make any sense. Even if it did, it goes both ways...if the child is supposed to make accomodations for a parent just because they are related, then the parent should be expected to suck it up for their "blood related" child too and do what's best for them. Actually, THAT is a parent's job, do what's best for your child, minor or adult, and put your personal issues aside, period.
Thanks everyone. Man it really sucks!! I have tried the line about how both of them should be adults and attend out of respect and love for me, but Parent A will have none of it. And I'm worried that if Parent B learns about all the strife Parent A is causing about this, Parent B won't attend because of the aforementioned non-confrontational tendancies. Ey yi yi.
Okay, then if Parent A is doing the blackmail gig, then say "You will be missed." You can always send a photo.
My ex-husband, an only child, went through this with his parents in his mid-20's. It was horrible. Apparently they had a somewhat open marriage and one parent was trying to give us photos of the other in compromising positions. Ugh, just thinking about how badly they behaved makes me cringe. They told us things that were eons old and none of our business. It was an endless battle that never really stopped until one of them died.
The end result was that my ex put distance between himself and them. We moved to Hawaii and he still resides there. He kept his contact with them minimal. I doubt that either of them wanted that kind of relationship, but that's what they got thanks to their behavior.
I could totally overshare on this topic, but I won't.
My advice to you would be to seek out counseling... for yourself. Divorce IMO is much harder on adult children, in some ways, and it can have a major impact on your own relationships.
All you can do is keep them at an arm's length for awhile till they get their sh!t together. Don't get bogged down in the fallout of their relationships. Try and remember you have your own life, they have theirs. They are adults and will have to figure things out for themselves. They are responsible for their own happiness.
We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.
But it does not have to be a terrible choice, unless you make it one.
Tiffany, from what you posted, your parents seem to be acting sensibly and without lots of drama. There is absolutely no reason why you can't have good parental relationships with both of them regardless of where you may reside. Your parents are not divorcing YOU.
Unfortunately for the OP, her parents are acting badly by making her choose sides and by playing martyr. That's a hard position to be in.