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Five things adult children may deal with during an elder divorce

Your parents have been married for 20, 30 or even 40 years and you didn’t think they would ever separate and eventually divorce. It can be a hard experience to process emotionally.

Many children face the reality of their parents divorcing at a young age, but with the grey divorce rate increasing, adult children are dealing with the aftermath of divorce more than ever.

There are some things that you can begin to prepare yourself for if your parents decide to call it quits after many years of marriage.

  • Confusing emotions: many young children who face divorce will and are expected to lash out considering the drastic circumstances and their age. While you are entitled to your emotions, that isn’t the expected reaction as adults. You may feel hurt, heartbroken and unable to really understand why they got divorced. Don’t feel guilty about how you choose to process these complex emotions as they will pass over time. Find a trusted therapist that you can process your feelings with.
  • Your parents will lean on you for support: Especially if you are an only child and have developed a close and lasting relationship with one parent, they may treat you as a confidant. Your parent or parents may want to vent, cry, or seek advice from you before, during and after the divorce. You may feel as though your parent and child roles are reversing temporarily.
  • Setting boundaries: You may have to get tough and set boundaries and clear expectations on what you can provide your parents during this time. It could be hard, but your parents need to understand the position you are in. Your parents airing their grievances about their partner helps nobody when that person is your other parent that you need to maintain your own independent relationship with. If a parent is inappropriately using you as a confidante or badmouthing your other parent to you, direct them to another close friend or a therapist.
  • Unexpected consequences: While this may not be the first thought that would come to mind, your parents grey divorce could end up costing you money and time if you choose to help your parents adjust to life after divorce. In some cases, a parent may even ask to move in with you temporarily or as a permanent living adjustment.
  • Seeing your parents with another partner: This can be difficult. You spent so much of your life seeing and thinking your parents would be together forever, and then, they weren’t, and are now in the arms of someone new. Your parents may not date again, but if they do, try to keep an open mind. It will ease the transition for both of you.