With increasingly more people in their 50s and much older getting divorced, it’s worth looking at how parental divorce affects “kids” who are no longer kids. While their lives aren’t upended as much as those of children and teens who still live with their parents, the news that the people who raised them will no longer be together can still come as a shock.
One therapist who has written about the subject explains that adult children of divorce can “view it as a disintegration of their family’s history.” Even if they sensed that their parents didn’t have a happy marriage, they may have assumed that at this stage of life they’d just stick it out.
However, more and more older couples no longer want to spend potentially decades more of their lives in an unhappy or unfulfilling marriage. They may find that they have very different visions for how they’ll spend this stage of their lives.
How parents can avoid putting their kids in the middle of their divorce
You can’t necessarily predict how an adult child will react to your divorce. It will depend in part on the circumstances. They may deal better with a divorce that was a mutual decision than one where one parent left or perhaps forced the other’s hand by starting a relationship outside the marriage.
You can both help your adult child come to terms with your divorce if you follow some of the same strategies recommended for parents of younger kids. For example:
- Don’t ask them to take sides.
- Don’t disparage their other parent to them.
- Don’t share details they don’t need to know.
- Don’t talk about the legal aspects of the divorce with them.
All of these can be hard to do, especially if you have a close relationship with your child. You may be used to talking to them more as a friend than your child. However, your focus should be on helping them (and your grandchildren) maintain a close relationship with both of you.
Even though you don’t have to worry about co-parenting with your soon-to-be-ex, you still have years of holiday gatherings and milestones of all kinds where you’ll need to be together. The more smoothly you can navigate the divorce, the more easily your family will likely adjust to your new separate lives.