He’s an adult, right? He’s been living independently for years, right? And all of a sudden, he’s calling you twice a day, crying, venting, and turning into a lump of rapidly liquefying jello. How did this happen? And, more importantly, how are you going to make it better?”
Regardless of whether your son is the driver of the divorce bus or his spouse is doing the driving, your kid is hurting and he’s turning to you out of habit or necessity to fix what’s broken. It’s been my observation that men have a harder time during emotional crises than women, largely because they don’t have the same type of support circle. It’s not typical for a man to call a male friend and say, “Dude, I’m feeling depressed. Can we get a glass of wine and talk?” And while I hate to stereotype, many men choose to confide in a female relative, rather than a guy-friend, which often results in Mom being the recipient.
Mothers are, by nature, problem solvers. We share wisdom, psychological insights, and the stories of others who have survived similar life-altering circumstances. We say, “don’t worry.” We tell our sons, “you’ll find someone better.” We boost their morale by reminding them of what wonderful men they are. And if, by chance, our sons were more culpable than our daughters-in-law, we attempt to rationalize their bad behavior — justifying it if necessary, to display our unwavering loyalty.
So, are we helping them? Or are we helping ourselves? Are we basking in this newly-found closeness with our adult sons? Are they annoying us because they’re so needy? What exactly are we feeling? What exactly are we doing?
I have a couple of suggestions. First, it makes sense to get your own emotions in check. Whether you’re heartbroken, angry, or fearful of the future, right now, he needs your stability and common sense. If your own emotions are flailing around like a kite trapped high atop the tree branches, it might be a good idea to talk to a counselor or a trusted friend. Try to be sympathetic and supportive without badmouthing the soon-to-be ex. If there are grandchildren involved, you’ll be glad you took the high road.
The other suggestion I have is to set your own boundaries. If your son needs a loan to move out and establish another living arrangement, figure out what the pay-back is going to look like, and get it in writing. If he’s going to need to move back in with you, make sure you set a time limit, and discuss what’s expected of him.
Obviously, your son’s divorce affects more than just your son. It’s going to create a different portrait of your entire family, one that you certainly didn’t envision. But you’ll work through it because you’re a mom, and moms can do anything!