In past generations, it may have seemed more common for parents to delay getting divorced until the children reached adulthood. Some couples continue to drudge through an unhappy marriage to protect their minor children from strife. However, as we discussed in July, more couples over the age of 50 are getting divorced. Many of these divorces are not due to a prior conscious decision to delay the dissolution until the kids were out of the house. Marriages break down for a wide variety of reasons, and sometimes couples that have been together for many years grow apart and seek to move on in their separate directions.
When a marriage breaks down later in life, it may seem like the children are no longer an issue to think about in the divorce process. Adult children can react in different ways to the divorce, especially when they have memories of a happy childhood household. The parent child-relationship often changes as the children mature into adults.
Breaking The News Should Done Be In Person
It is important to understand that even though your child is now a well-grounded adult, you need to be aware that your child may have a variety of feelings and reactions. Telling the children about the divorce is hard at any age. A telephone call to break the news may not be the best option, according to Dr. Carol Hughes, a divorce coach on the West Coast. Try to break the news in person and expect questions. In February, we provided tips for breaking divorce news to the kids. While the story was aimed more at young children, many of the concepts apply to adult children as well.
There is little research to see how divorce affects adult children, but many therapists know that some adults are troubled. Although your child is fully-grown, it is important to understand that the family is in transition. Children of any age still need reassurance that your change in lifestyle is not their fault. Remaining a parent can help you to remain grounded during a troubling time.
Parents should also recognize that the children have relationships with both parents. Many parents have wonderful relationships and view their children as close confidants as well as family. Speaking about your ex in a demeaning or disparaging matter may make your child uncomfortable - even as your adult sounding board.
Your Parent-Child Relationship Will Continue, But May Need Some Adjustments
Creating a parenting time arrangement for an independent twenty- or thirty-something is not part of the family court's concerns. Parents typically feel that the adult children are living their own lives and the divorce will not have an impact on the adult children. Yet, the parent -child relationship is a life-long endeavor. It is important to keep an open mind about how to split or share holidays and birthdays.
Keeping grounded during divorce is important at any age. While you and your child may be close, it is important to remember that both you and your ex will continue to have relationships with your child during the process and after the divorce is final.