Deciding to divorce is not usually an easy thing for a couple to do. Sometimes it is the result of years of conflict between spouses, while other times it may be a complete shock to one or both of the parties involved. Knowing what resources are available to the couple to help in the process is important, but the couple will also need emotional support through close friends and family.
In our society, the longer the couple is married, the more likely we assume they are going to beat the odds of divorce. However, recently, there has been a growing trend of couples who are deciding to divorce after many years of being together. This type of divorce is having a profound effect on the adult children of the divorcing parents that has not yet been heavily researched by scientists.
What is Gray Divorce?
Gray Divorce is a new term used to describe divorce among couples over the age of 50. According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, about one fourth of divorces are by couples over 50 years old. In fact, in the last 25 years, despite the overall rate of divorce decreasing by 25 percent, the rate of gray divorce doubled between 1990 and 2010 alone.
What Can Adult Children Do to Minimize the Shock of the Divorce?
There are many Coping Strategies through which adult children of divorcing parents can walk to help them understand the process and get through it in a healthy way to minimize the destructive effect it may have on their relationships with their divorcing parents.
Maintain Strict Boundaries on What is Said to the Adult Children
Just like with younger children, adult children should not be exposed to the minute details shared between the divorcing parents. Because they are adults, it is assumed that they may be able to handle, or want to know, more of the details of the divorce. In fact though, it might actually be more destructive to get too involved at that level of the process.
Do Not Take An Active Role in the Process; You Are Not an Objective Party
Avoid the temptation of getting involved in some way to comfort one or both parents during the process in a supportive role as a friend, arbiter, or even neutral party. The adult child should avoid playing any other role than child and let the professionals do their jobs.
Don’t Pick a Favorite
There are no winners in divorce so choosing one side over the other does not help the situation. Sometimes infidelity on the part of one parent is an issue that may skew with whom the adult children sympathize. However, every relationship needs to be viewed as a whole, and getting involved in the blame game only amplifies the already negative situation.
Recognize that Being an Adult is an Asset
As an adult, we have control over with whom we maintain relationships and in what direction we will take the relationship. Divorce can help redefine our relationships with our parents and can even bring a family closer together by addressing some issues that may have been avoided prior to the divorce.
Do Not Panic and Question Your Own Relationships
After finding out their parents are divorcing, adult children may have a tendency to question the relationships they have with their significant others. Resist the urge to overanalyze your own relationships and make unhealthy comparisons. While children learn and model the relationships they see growing up, each relationship is unique, and as adults, we can make different choices about what is healthy for ourselves.
Don’t Revise History
Another process adult children tend to go through is looking back at their childhood to reflect on their parent’s relationship when they were growing up. They might get angry, question events, and even blame the parents for staying in an unhappy marriage for their own sake. While some of this thought process is normal, if it becomes an unhealthy one, adult children may need to seek outside perspective through a counselor or other advisor.
Own the Grief
Adult children should always be true to their feelings about the issue. Going through the normal grieving process is a step that should not be skipped just because you are an adult when it occurs.
If you or someone you know is contemplating divorce and need advice about planning ahead, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC today. We serve clients in DuPage County, and we are prepared to help you with any family law issues you may have.
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