How do we tell the children? In the past this question was usually asked by parents of young children and teenagers. However, due to the increase of divorce by couples who are in their 50s and 60s, the children are often adults. Custody issues are not decided for adult children; nonetheless, divorce often has a profound impact on them.
In the New York Times on April 24, 2016 (“Never Too Old to Hurt From Parental Divorce”, pg. ST 15), Jane Gordon Julien describes how divorce can impact adult children. Parents may expect their children to provide significant emotional support. However, the adult children may be preoccupied with their own feelings and reactions to their parents’ breakup. Parents may want to talk with adult children about dating and new significant people in their lives while the adult children are still grieving the end of their parents’ marriage.
When older parents divorce, the adult children may question many aspects of their own lives. Dr. Carol Hughes, a divorce coach, remarked, “Some parents will say, ‘I wanted to divorce your mom or dad when you were little, but we had you kids.’ The adult child asks, ’Was it all a façade?’”
Therapists or mediators can help older divorcing parents and their adult children. Ms. Julien ‘s article contains advice from several professionals. During divorce mediation, parents of adult children can discuss and decide when and where they will tell their children, and how they will handle holidays. Divorce at any age affects each family member; the needs of adult children deserve to be addressed.
For more information about Sheila Russian and divorce mediation: http://www.baltimoremediationservices.com