Are You an ACOD?
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.