Tag Archives: Adult Children

Adult Children of Divorcing Baby-boomers

small_4079340543 (1)   Baby-boomers, individuals born between 1946 and 1964, currently have the highest divorce rate while the divorce rate in general is declining.  Long-married couples break-up for multitudinous reasons.  The decision may take many years or it might happen in one moment.  One thing certain is  that all concerned in  divorce find themselves starting over, as a newly single adult or an adult child whose childhood family is dissolved. It is the adult child of gray divorce that is often assumed to be the least vulnerable.  The thinking often goes something like this:  Now that the children are grown, they know how to take care of themselves and are busy establishing their own lives and relationships.  Our divorce may be a little upsetting, but they will be just fine. Adult children of divorce find themselves cloaked in assumptions. But reality is different than assumptions. Adult children of divorce often experience similar feelings to young children and adolescents.  For example, feelings of anger, loss, abandonment, fear, loss of family home, loss of security, and loss of the family as a whole , all may arise.  In addition to the familiar feelings any child may experience with parental divorce, adult children are unique in their situation. It is because they are adults, they have a lifetime of memories of growing up in their family.  Just the sheer number of years an adult child has lived with married parents translates into significant loss when parents uncouple. Whether family life was turbulent or seemingly smooth-sailing, everything comes into question for the adult child.  What was the meaning of all those years growing up? As adult children try to piece together clues they may have missed or simply did not want to see, they may feel like detectives trying to unravel fragments and make meaning.   Paradoxically,  just as adult children may feel vulnerable and confused, it is often at this pivotal time in their family that one or both parents may look to an adult child for emotional support ushering through the divorce process. This is where the term adult child is  oxymoronic.  Adult offspring of divorcing parents are in the role of an adult while at the same time trying to manage feelings of abandonment, fear, anger, and betrayal.  The family photographs still show parents and children.  Wasn’t that forever? There is no easy way to uncouple.  Much is written about  both divorce and its impact on young children.  The impact on adult children of divorce is slowly emerging into the collective consciousness.  One of the very best gifts divorcing parents can give their adult children is invite conversation and dialogue.  Create a feeling of safety to express feelings without fear of judgment or criticism.  This is not an easy task in the middle of a family crisis.  If parents and/or adult children do not feel the family can talk without adding pain and rupture, a psychotherapist can assist. Communication and listening are powerful tools.  They can make a world of difference during the difficult process of divorce.