In the last two decades, gray divorces have been on the rise, and researchers believe that gray divorce rates will triple by 2030. A gray divorce is a dissolution of a marriage between older individuals (those over the age of 50). This term was initially coined by the American Association of Retired Person (AARP) in the early 2000s.
Couples involved in a gray divorce often wonder whether their divorce is traumatic for their adult children. In this article, we will discuss the effects of divorce on adult children as well as tips concerning how to tell them you are divorcing.
The Aftermath of Gray Divorce for Adult Children
Once they learn about your gray divorce, adult children may struggle mentally, emotionally, and socially. Your divorce can shake their sense of normalcy and sense of control, and they may:
- Fail to process their emotions in a healthy way
- Feel like their childhood and adult memories (especially happy ones) are a lie
- Not be able to set effective and needed boundaries with their parents
- Rewrite the past
- Struggle with their interpersonal and romantic relationships
- Struggle with their view of relationship and marriage
Telling Your Adult Children That You’re Getting Divorced
You may be wondering how to tell your grown-up children you’re divorcing. No matter how you tell them they may struggle with the news, but you do want to ensure that you are mindful of when and how you break the news. Here are some considerations concerning sharing the news of your divorce with them.
- Tell them in person (if possible). You should try to tell your children about the divorce face-to-face. Whether that’s in person or via video chat, that is preferable to telling them over the phone.
- Share the news together. You and your partner should both be present to tell your children about the divorce; if that’s not possible, you should agree on what you plan to share with them. Presenting a united front is beneficial.
- Don’t focus or oversell the negatives. While you should be honest about the circumstances surrounding the divorce, oversharing or putting down the other party is not beneficial. You may tarnish your child’s memories or their relationship with the other party.
- Be sensitive to their feelings and boundaries. When you break the news, do not invalidate or belittle their emotional response. If you ignore their feelings, they may withdraw. When you tell them, they may also set a boundary with you concerning what they will and won’t discuss concerning the divorce, and you should respect these boundaries.
- Explain what will and won’t change. If you plan to sell the family home, can no longer financially support them, or plan to split holidays with your soon-to-be-ex, be sure to tell your child. It’s best to prepare them for the inevitable changes so they have time to adjust to the news and the effects of the news. However, you should also remind them that some things will not change (like how much you love them) so that they know that there will still be some constants.
- Remind them they don’t have to choose sides. Sometimes, adult children may feel like they have to act as a mediator or side with either parent. If you force them to choose sides, they develop resentment or isolate from both of you. When you tell them you’re divorcing, remind them that you all are still family and that there aren’t sides.
- Avoid fighting in front of them. When parents fight or disagree, their children (minors and adults) may feel forced to choose sides.
If you have filed or plan to file for divorce as an older person, the attorneys at The Neshanian Law Firm, Inc can help you protect your interests and understand the unique issues couples getting a divorce later in life may face (like telling your adult children). Our attorneys have decades of collective legal experience and can offer you high-quality legal counsel.
To schedule a no-obligation case consultation, telephone us at (949) 577-7935 or reach out online.