Are You an ACOD?

Friday, 30 November 2012 | Tags: , ,

I used to be a Yuppie, then a DINK. But my latest acronym? I’m now officially an ACOD, an Adult Child of Divorce.

Lots of adults have divorced parents. But far fewer are adults when their parents get a divorce. For years, I thought my parents had if not a perfect marriage, a pretty darn good one. One that was actually going to last and it did, for almost 40 years. But about four years ago, the bottom fell out. They were 65 and I was 39 and I was totally blind-sided. I had just gone through a divorce of my own and the thought of going through another one was overwhelming.

We were a small family to begin with, just the three of us, and the odd cat. I used to like being an only child, getting all my parents’ attention (and scrutiny), being hauled off to grown-up events and parties, and traveling with them extensively. By and large, we were a good little unit.

But now that my parents are no longer together, I’m stuck in the middle in a way that only an only child can be. I have been a shoulder to cry on, I’ve heard stories I never wanted to hear. I’ve been a therapist, a financial advisor and a friend.

For a long time, I was angry about being dragged into their marital troubles. They didn’t seem to appreciate the position they were putting me in, telling me things a kid, (yes, I’m still their kid) shouldn’t know. Didn’t they watch after school specials? You’re supposed to keep your kids out of it.

It took me a long time to draw successful parameters around what I was willing to talk about and what I was willing to hear. I now say, “I can’t talk about this with you.” It works most of the time.

As anyone who has gone through a divorce knows, the division of assets can be a painful process. And as an ACOD, it’s brought up thoughts that don’t always sit well. All of a sudden I’m considering, “how will this affect me financially, what will my inheritance be?” Stuff I never gave a second thought to before.

One thing that has been immensely helpful is talking to other ACODs. (Un)fortunately, a close friend has gone through a very similar experience. Other people who were raised in divorced families have also been very supportive in offering advice about how to deal with single parents, new families and super fun new holidays like four Christmases.

Incidentally, a new comedy is coming out entitled ACOD, starring Adam Scott, Amy Poehler and Jane Lynch. I think I’m finally ready to laugh about the craziness of it all. And that’s a good thing.

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  • D. Lee

    Divorce is getting more and more common these days but the divorce of a couple that had been together for almost 40 years is not something you hear about often. It’s a shame things couldn’t work out between them.

  • Kaye

    I can’t help but say “Good for them!” A lot of the older couples in my family are miserable together, but still choose to stay with one another. I’m not sure if it’s because of fear of being alone as you age, but whatever the cause, it doesn’t seem to always serve either individual. I think it takes a lot of courage to acknowledge the fact that they aren’t thriving in the relationship anymore, and to ultimately decide to move in another direction–especially after building a life together for so many years. Hopefully it works out for the better for everyone.

  • http://www.annaandkristina.com/ Kristina

    Hi Kaye. It’s just difficult (at any age) when one person wants to move on and the other doesn’t. But yes, I hope that ultimately, they will both be happier!

    • Kaye

      Very understandable! Best of luck all round.

  • Alice Allison

    Just learned a new acronymn! Your post was very insightful and personal. Life certainly is a strange and wonderful rollercoaster ride!

    • http://www.annaandkristina.com/ Kristina

      Thanks for reading, Alice!

  • Charlotte Baynham

    Thanks for sharing Kristina. I am a currently a DINKWAD (double-income-no-kids-with-a dog), but also became a ACOD about 5 years ago. I was 35 when my mom made the move and asked my dad for a divorce. Like you, my parents didn’t have the perfect marriage, but I never thought they would actually get divorced. I am sure if my mom wouldn’t have started the ball rolling, my dad would have just sat back and put his time in until “death do they part”.
    My mom on the other hand, wanted more. She wanted to be happy and was tired of living with an alcoholic. She is doing very well now. My dad on the other hand, met another woman shortly after my mom moved out. She is 23 years younger than him.
    Within a year, he sold the family home and moved him, his new girlfriend (now his wife) and her 16 year old to Vancouver Island (which ironically was supposed to be my mum and dad’s retirement plan).
    My dad and I never had a close relationship, and this new chapter of his life only made a deeper wedge. We speak a few times a year, but it is very awkward. He is currently in financial ruin as he has been living the big life with his new family for the past 5 years. Home renovations, vacations, foolish spending has left him with nothing. In fact he called me a few months ago to ask to borrow money. He is turning 71 in April and this is certainly not where I thought he would be at this age. Perhaps you can help me come up with an acronym for this situation??

    • http://www.annaandkristina.com/ Kristina

      Hi Charlotte. That definitely sounds like a tough situation, it’s so difficult when we see a parent make bad choices. You want to cry out “I told you so!” Though that never seems to help matters. As for an acronym, maybe you’re a GITRAN – Guess I’m the responsible adult now. Or a KAPP – Kids are parenting parents. I’m still working on it!