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Divorce and the importance of considering your adult children

That the divorce of their parents often negatively impacts adult children may not be something you often think about, but it is worth considering if divorce is your future. This is especially true with the rise in so-called “gray divorce” – which is a term used for couples divorcing later in life.

While it is true that younger children may be more directly impacted by the day-to-day parenting arrangements and logistics, adult children are just as likely to have emotional stress when their parents are going through a divorce. Not surprisingly, many parents expect that adult children will be more “grown-up” about their reaction to this news. However, for many in this position, the revelation is devastating.

Adult children will be emotional, and that is okay

It doesn’t matter if you are five years old or 25, when your parents tell you that they are getting a divorce, the news can be devastating. While a 25-year-old may be more emotionally mature than a five-year-old, they still may feel hurt, anger, sadness, frustration and loss at the news. Allowing children to grieve the loss of their parents’ marriage in a healthy way is important.

Your child is not your therapist

As children grow up, it is easy for the relationship to evolve into one more akin to a friendship. But when you are going through a divorce, it is important to keep your children out of the middle – whatever their ages. They don’t want to take sides as adults, any more than they would if they were younger. Don’t ask them to. And don’t overshare information about the proceedings or the details of the divorce itself. They will continue to have a relationship with the other parent and they should feel free to do so.

Healing takes time, so does acceptance 

A divorce is a loss, as much for your children as it is for you. Allow your children to grieve and accept changes in their own time. You may want to start a new relationship with someone or the other parent may as well. Rushing your children to accept these new significant others can cause hurt and frustration on both sides. Be patient when it comes to making plans such as holidays or other special events. Now your children will need to balance their time with each parent. If they already have busy lives with their own children and spouses, this may mean less time spent with you as they navigate this new normal.

No matter what their age, no matter how your relationship has evolved, your children will always see you as their parent. That doesn’t change when they get older, become adults and have children of their own. Because custody and parenting time arrangements are not at the forefront of divorce issues involving adult children, many parents do not consider the effect their separation will have on their loved ones. However, just as much consideration needs to go into the impact on adult children, as it does for younger children.

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