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How might your divorce impact your grown children?

For those raised in a stable two-parent home environment, the effects of divorce can be devastating – even as adults. But with grey divorce on the rise, questions remain about how grown children may experience its impact.

Divorce proceedings probably aren’t as difficult when child custody and support aren’t part of the settlement. And, while blame and resentment are often common pieces of the divorce puzzle, they may not be as great a consideration in regard to adult children as with younger dependents.

However, grown children may experience their parents’ divorce in their own way. Even after they’ve moved out of their childhood home, and may live far from their family, adult children of divorcing parents may experience a multitude of emotions and wrestle with many questions.

Struggles your adult children may have with your divorce

Your grown children will not experience the impact of court-ordered custody arrangements or suffer potential financial consequences of who gets the house. However, they may still struggle with the anger and hurt of your divorce in their own ways, which could include:

  • Family experience – Even if they’re adults when you and your spouse part ways, your children may ponder the legitimacy of your relationship throughout their formative years. Questions like “Did they only stay together for us?” may arise.
  • Loss – You and your spouse may both have established relationships with your grown children. Still, your divorce may pose a tremendous loss to your children if they perceive their family stability is falling to pieces.
  • Decreased interest in marriage – As they see your marriage fail after many years together, your children may become conflicted about what commitments they want to make for themselves.
  • Loyalty – Once the family unit is divided, deciding where and when to celebrate holidays and special occasions may require additional consideration. This may be increasingly difficult in situations where one parent expresses blame or fault of the other parent.

Though they, too, may struggle with your divorce, there are ways you can help you children, even as you heal.

How you can help your kids cope with your divorce

Given your connection to your children, and potentially your grandchildren, you may want to be open about everything that went wrong in your marriage. However, you may choose to spare your children any insight that could thwart their opinion of, or alter their relationship with, their other parent.

Some psychologists believe it may not be fair to put your kids in a position of becoming an emotional support for you. Before sharing details, you may want to consider what information is necessary, versus what may simply be hurtful to another person.

You may consider getting some outside help to work through the feelings and emotions of your divorce. Even though your children are grown, you likely have a parent-child relationship you want to maintain. This may be especially important after your divorce as you seek to love and support each other in new and different ways.  

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