My dad is moving out

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My dad is moving out of our house. I don’t know when because he hasn’t found a place yet, but it will be soon. I also don’t know why he is leaving and my parents have not said anything about divorce yet. I want to find out why he is leaving, but I don’t really know how to ask. I was hoping that they would just tell us, but since they haven’t, I can’t ask. I saw how much it hurt my parents, especially my dad, just to talk to us about him leaving. I can’t put him through that again by asking…and I don’t want to go through that again. How do I find out why without having to have any of us go through what we went through when they said he was leaving? I really love my parents and I CAN’T see them hurting that much…it makes me hurt even more than I already do to see them so sad.

A: I’m so so sorry that your family is going through this painful time. I’m impressed that you have the maturity to be sensitive to your parents’ pain when you are also hurting.

Clearly if your parents felt that the reasons for the separation were appropriate to share, they would have done so. It’s enough for you to know that whatever it is has hurt them both. What they need from you is to know that you love them both and trust them. When things are less raw, they may be more able to give you information. The way to show them that you are mature enough to handle it is to accept whatever they are willing to tell you for now and not take sides.

I suggest you wait a few months for things to settle down a little. Then ask your parents to give you enough information to make sense of the fact that your family is falling apart. You can tell them that you appreciate their efforts to protect you but that, at 18, you feel adult enough to know at least the outlines of the problem.

I do hope that your parents are giving couples counseling a try. Generally, when people are in this much pain about separating, there is ambivalence about the decision. My bias always is that a 20 year relationship is worth a few sessions of therapy to see if it can be salvaged.

I wish you all well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Nov 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). My dad is moving out. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/11/09/my-dad-is-moving-out/