Helping adult children cope with divorce

There is no set time and age that a couple decides to get a divorce. Maybe it was after just a few short months of marriage, or maybe the couple decided it was time to split after more than 20 years of marriage? Either way, if children are involved – regardless of their age – the split will most likely have some sort of impact on them.

Often times people tend to believe that a divorce is only hard on younger children, however, according to Vicki Lansky, who is an author that focuses on parenting issues, older and adult children still feel the pain of a split, only often the hurt is fueled by different reasons than if they were younger.

For one thing, an adult child may feel embarrassed if mom or dad starts to date again after the divorce, and even more so if that new boyfriend or girlfriend is younger. In addition, adult children who have their own responsibilities, and in some cases families, could also be angry and frustrated with a divorce because it may feel like an added burden in their own lives.

However, staying together through a broken marriage is not the solution, and instead Lansky offers the following tidbits of advice for dealing with an adult child when divorcing his or her other parent:

• No. 1 is for parents to never tell a child that the only reason they stayed together as long as they did was for them. Even though this may be true, it’s not something that a child – at any age – needs to hear.

• No. 2 is to understand that an adult child may feel that one parent is the victim of the divorce and take their side.

• No. 3 is to make sure that the adult child understands that any happy memories that they had from growing up were genuine and were not a “sham.”

Aside from these tips, how a parent acts during a divorce – whether it’s contested or uncontested – is sure to have an effect on a child of any age, and negative behaviors such as screaming and fighting, will surely impact a child more than the actual divorce. It’s important to keep anger at bay throughout the entire process for the sake of the children.

Source: Huffington Post, “At What Age is Your Divorce Easiest on Your Children? (Did You Guess the Older Ones?), Vicki Lansky, 24 Jan 2011

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