Jen was in her early thirties when her marriage ended. Realizing that she couldn’t rely on her ex, she knew that supporting their three young boys would be up to her. With no college education however, her job opportunities were limited so she turned to her parents for help. Here’s Jen:
I accomplished so many things this year, but I am stronger than I ever, ever thought possible. I went back to school, which scares the crud out of me…
“I’m going to be the oldest person in all my classes”
I went back for a degree in English. What I really love to do is write, but I need to have something to study, as well, so I’ll get my teaching certificate. I’m a sophomore right now so it’ll be another three years before I’m done, if I’m lucky.
But I couldn’t have done it without my mom and dad. I would be a mess right now if I didn’t have them. I’m a very hands-on mom, I love to spend time with my kids, and I really, really enjoy my boys. We just have fun, and I feel really guilty when I can’t give them the time I used to give them. So knowing that they’re here with my mom and dad, who raised me, that has helped a lot.
My boys are really close to my parents and my parents are incredible. They’re so fun and so hip and they just really take care of my kids, and they make it fun.
We’re still living with my parents and I work in a dental office. That wouldn’t be enough to support my boys and I, so my parents basically pay our living expenses. I don’t pay any rent, they pay for the house and the rent and utilities and stuff like that. I take care of my health insurance and my kids’ health insurance and car stuff and the storage units that all of the stuff is stored in. My ex doesn’t really pay for anything, because he hasn’t had work.
It was really hard on my brother because although he and my ex were not super close, he had always looked up to him. I think it really hurt my brother to see what I had gone through. My parents had seen so much of what had gone on, I think my dad was just like,
“Be done with it. Be done with it, get out.”
My mom I think had trouble with it, because she’s coming from that old school generation where this looks bad. The “she’s moving in with us” was sort of hard for her. I know they are happy to help me, and I know they love me, and I know they love my kids. At the same time, I know they miss their retirement because they’re like parents all over again.
I think if it was just me with my kids, I really think I might be an alcoholic. I would really be struggling if I didn’t have the support that I have right now.
The Divorce Coach Says
Jen is very fortunate to have the support of her parents and that undoubtedly has made it much easier for Jen to go back to school. I’m sure that seeing Jen working hard to be able to support herself and her children, make her parents more willing to help. It’s a two-way street. As a parent, I hope that if either of my children ever find themselves in this situation, our relationship would be such that they would come to me and I would welcome them.
Is there such a thing as being too old to ask for help from your parents? While it might feel strange I don’t think so. Another of my guests, Judy was in her late forties when her twenty-eight year marriage ended and she turned to her parents for help to go back to school to get her special education degree which was her pathway to her perfect job. Again, what Judy and Jen have in common was that they both had a plan for becoming self-sufficient so they request for help was not an open-ended commitment.
For me, my only living parent at the time of my divorce was my dad who was living in England – we’d lived on separate continents for twenty years and while he asked if there was anything I needed, there wasn’t much he could realistically help with. What I needed help with the most was learning to maintain my home, which he would have been great with, and emotional support, which he wouldn’t have been so great at.
Did your parents help you? In what way? How did you feel about turning to them for help?
BTW … if you are wondering about going back to school to gain a qualification, don’t automatically dismiss because of the cost. There are grants available especially for non-traditional students. A good place to start is the financial aid office of your local community college.
Photo credit: Amanda Azzi