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Don't be a helicopter parent in your child's divorce

The concept of Minnesota nice is one that plays well across the country. The stereotype associated with the term is that anyone raised in Minnesota is courteous, mild-mannered and reserved.

It's not true of course. Yes, you will hear people saying, "That's different" when they likely mean, "That's awful." But the reality is that Minnesotans can be as in your face as anyone, and it might be especially true for parents when their children are under assault -- even adult children.

Divorce is one of those family law things that can spark a parent's fight response. In some cases it might be called for; most of the time it isn't. How parents should respond isn't spelled out well in how-to guides. To provide a little framework, here are thoughts from some who have dealt with such issues.

As you might expect, your action should depend on the circumstances of your offspring's divorce. The initial stance to take, according to experts, is one that delivers emotional and physical support as necessary and requested.

When your son or daughter announces they're divorcing, try to determine where they are in processing the situation. Chances are pretty good that you won't be the first people they have spoken to about their problems, and if they've been in touch with friends, they may be what is called "divorce-ready." If that's the case, your steady nonjudgmental presence may be all that's needed.

Grieving will be part of the process, probably for all of you. Understand the stages of grief and be ready to help your child through each. Some could run longer than others.

If grandchildren are part of the story, keep routines as close to normal as possible. Assuming you have good relations with your child's soon-to-be-ex, strive to maintain them if your child doesn't object. It will be important for the sake of the children.

What you should try to avoid doing is pressing for details about what happened. While you should encourage your child to work with experienced legal counsel, don't get inject yourself into the legal process.

At the same time, if you have a stake in the outcome of the divorce because of business connections or lent the couple money, you should consider speaking with an attorney about protecting your own interests.

Sometimes adopting an attitude of Minnesota nice can be a good thing.

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