My parents are going through a divorce and I’m their only child. I was in the midst of my final year exams when they broke the news to me. Both of them are using me as a vomiting bowl and keep bitching about each other. I hate being in this position. I also hate the fact that both of them have been insensitive to me in terms of timing this during my exams. I don’t know how to handle their venting and my own emotions about all this. Please advise.
Aman Bhonsle says:
Yours is a difficult position to be in.
Secure your future first
You need to be realistic about the situation with your parents or else you risk tiring yourself out.
Currently, you need all the energy you’ve got so you can crack your exams. Since failing to do well in your exams will create ripples in your future and affect your employability, you will need to find a way to siphon time to study for your exams as a priority.
Given how messy divorce proceedings usually get, you’d best park those concerns for now. Dealing with life’s problems is usually a combination of strategy (a plan and a contingency) and priorities (since all problems should NOT be handled all at once). This is also a good opportunity to figure out which one of your concerns needs to be dealt with ‘in the a timely & swift manner’ – The exam? Or the emotional repercussions of your parents’ divorce?
How to concentrate on your exams
If not being able to concentrate is going to continue to be a problem, try moving out of home temporarily and staying with a relative or friend. This will ensure that you’re in right head space for your immediate and time sensitive academic commitments.
The matter of your parents’ divorce
As distressing as this may be for you, from a strictly practical standpoint, there is very little you can do for your parents besides stay out of their way as they find a way to settle the imbalance in their lives. Our need to rescue the ones we love sometimes leads us to forget that they’re perfectly capable and intelligent enough to solve their own problems.
Your parents are ‘adults’ and will eventually find a way to ‘normalise’ the ruckus in their relationship for better or for worse. They’ve been adults longer than you’ve been an adult and you may want to trust them with handling the various elements of their divorce proceedings. I know that this may sound like a detached viewpoint towards what may very well be a trying time for the family, but you need to know when it’s the right time to take your foot off the brakes, especially if the road is about to get bumpy.
Handling your own emotions
You might want to seek out the services of a counsellor to talk through your pain and confusion. Your plate is full and you need to find a way to make sure that you’re not the ‘collateral damage’ in what is essentially a problem between your parents. Don’t let your exams suffer.
The punching bag situation
For them to use you as a punching bag is what occurs naturally to them as they probably see you as a ‘soft target’. They are upset and are probably feeling vulnerable in their own way about the divorce. They’re seeking outlets to express all that emotion. You need to put your foot down about not wanting to be a part of their ‘situation’. It won’t be easy to do, but you need to put yourself first at all costs.
Make it clear to your parents that you’re keen on focusing on your exams right now and that their troubles are beginning to affect you adversely. Tell them that you ‘absolutely’ need to tide over your exams with success and hence need to retreat into your space, for now. This is important. Your parents’ divorce is an opportunity to test how strong your resolve really is.
All the best,