The Adult Children of Divorce
It happens all the time – the parents who stayed married “for the kids” eventually do go ahead with the divorce. When parents’ divorce while the kids are still young, or at least minors, the children really have no choice but to adjust to their new schedules, in most cases they still see both parents, and after a while their parent’s divorce is a thing of the past and eventually everyone learns to live with their new normal. No, it’s not always quite that easy, but as minors, even when the children are upset with one parent they have no choice but to accept that they are still under both parent’s roofs and rules, and generally they enter adulthood having established some form of relationships with both of their parents as individuals.
When couples with adult children divorce things can be a bit dicer to navigate. Adult children are not forced to maintain a relationship or share custody with either parent. Taking sides and determining loyalty may be expected from parents knowing that their children are old enough to make their own judgements. Instead of these parents deciding where the children have to spend holidays those are now decisions adult children now need to make on their own. These decisions can make for very difficult situations for adults, and can even lead to family fall outs.
Unlike when children are young, people don’t concern themselves with the emotional, physical, and financial toll of divorce on adult offspring. Watching the family home and assets being packed up and fought over shatters your world, no matter how old you are. So how can you make your divorce easier on your adult children? Encourage them to focus on their own lives. Don’t put them into a situation where they are forced to choose a side. It’s unrealistic to expect your adult children to spend Christmas eve with Dad and Christmas day with Mom, especially as they establish families of their own. Respect boundaries, divorce with dignity by not bad mouthing your ex to their children – just because they are adults and can handle it, doesn’t mean they should have to. This isn’t to say that you should keep things from your adult children, simply that unhealthy bashing is not good for either party. It’s natural to need to talk about the divorce and your past, but having a good friend to vent to rather than your children may help you to filter what is necessary for your children to know or not.
Maybe you are not quite to the graying divorce yet – perhaps you are amongst those with younger children still and are considering a divorce or “Staying together for the children.” Research shows that adult children of divorce are less satisfied in their lives compared to adults from intact and happy families, however, they ARE happier than adults from families that were miserable but stayed together. This confirms that if you and your spouse really can’t stand each other, and “staying together for the children” means raising them in a miserable and unhappy home, divorce might be a better idea.
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