Empty Nest Divorce Announcements Devastate College Freshmen

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Parents who are waiting to divorce until the children are "grown" mistakenly wait until they leave for college. They don't realize that an unexpected announcement of divorce can seriously destabilize a college freshman.

The worst thing is when the entire divorce plays out over the phone and e-mail

Woodstock, New York (PRWeb) September, 2009. According to Erica Manfred, author of He's History; You're Not: Surviving Divorce After Forty College students have a name for it: "the freshman call." Parents wait until their child has finished high school and is off to college before getting a divorce, which they, or at least one of them, may have been planning for a long time. Their son or daughter is already going through the disorientation of being away from home for the first time, adjusting to being on his or her own, and hearing that her family is disintegrating can be profoundly disorienting.

How Not to Announce Your Divorce

On the Phone or by Email:

"The worst thing is when the entire divorce plays out over the phone and e-mail," says Brooke Lea Foster, who went through her parents' divorce over the phone when she was a college freshman. "You get snippets and constantly feel like you should be there. You feel guilty, embarrassed. You're just getting to know people at college and are too embarrassed to be crying about Mom and Dad when you're being an adult for the first time. When you leave home you rely on home to ground you; when home has an earthquake rumbling under it, you're thrown for a loop."

At Christmas Dinner:

Your children will feel blindsided if they come home for the holidays only to find out their parents are getting divorced. Tell them when they have some time to absorb the news, such as mid-semester or the end of their freshman year.

·Without Telling Your Spouse First.

Adult children bitterly resent it when they feel that the news has been communicated in a sneaky, indirect, dishonest, humiliating, or unnecessarily brutal way. They especially resent it when they are left to break the news to the other parent. Actually, the best way to tell adult children about your divorce is the same way the experts recommend telling small children. If at all possible, you and your husband should sit down with them together when they have some time to digest the news. If your children are in college, wait until they're home for a long break.

By Telling A Lie:

If you were the one who had an affair, own up to it. Don't try to lie to your kids, because someone will tell them and they'll be furious at you for it. If their father had the affair, don't cover up for him, either. They are grown-ups and can deal with it. If they ask about something, be straight with them--without trashing your ex in the process.

Erica Manfred, the author of He's History; You're Not Surviving Divorce After Forty has written for Cosmopolitan, New York Times Magazine, Ms., Parenting, Woman's Day, and Bottom Line/Personal. Previously a New York State caseworker who counseled families and children, she runs a women's divorce support group in New Paltz, New York.


Erica Manfred
phone: 845-679-2235
cell:     845-901-6107
askerica at aol.com
He's History; You're Not: Surviving Divorce After Forty


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