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When adult children divorce, beware of 'overparenting'

A new term made it into the dictionary in 2011 -- "helicopter parent." Most everyone in Florida reading this has probably heard it. It describes a parent who is so involved in their child's life that they are downright obsessive about making sure nothing bad ever happens to them. Experts agree it's not a good thing.

While the desire to protect our children is probably genetic there can be a danger in taking it too far. And once in the habit of helicoptering, it can be a difficult practice to break; to a point where it could become a factor in an adult child's divorce. Experts tend to agree that's not a good thing, either.

Divorce is a particularly personal event for couples. It is rarely easy. But it is their issue. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources around they can turn to for help.

The same may not be true for caring parents. The pain of divorce is something you probably would like to spare your child. But is it the right thing to do, or should you stay out of the way? Striking a balance can be difficult, but is possible.

Experts who have dealt with such issues suggest that the best first step is to simply be present, emotionally and physically, for your son or daughter. Your child may be feeling a bit lost at different points in the process, but that doesn't need to be taken as a sign that you have to lead them through it.

If your child and his or her spouse have children and you have been part of their lives up to this point, professionals encourage maintaining those relationships. To the extent you can and the parents will allow, help sustain grandchild routines. Be ready to help when called upon by your now-single parent, but don't force yourself into the picture.

Nor should you plan to impose yourself into the legal process involving child support, custody or parenting plans. However, if you have financial interests at stake in the divorce -- say because of loans you've made or a business arrangement you have with your child -- you would do well to consult with an attorney of your own to learn what your rights are and how to reasonably and rationally protect them.

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