There are many studies that discuss how divorce affects children. A divorce can be an emotionally stressful and confusing time for children, and it can take time for them to adjust to the new situation.
The impact of a divorce is still very real for adult children as well.
Even if children are grown and out of the house, a divorce may have a significant effect on their lives. Parents may not face complex negotiations about child custody or splitting up parenting time, but their family will still have to deal with the considerable changes that divorce brings.
How might adult children react to divorce?
Regardless of age, the parent-child relationship remains an important part of both parents’ and children’s lives. That is why North Carolina parents should not underestimate the impact their divorce could have on adult children.
A 2012 study found that adult children might even react more negatively to their parents’ divorce compared to younger children. They often experience:
- Doubt and confusion as they question their childhood memories and their parents’ relationship;
- Worry about their own relationships or marriages;
- Anger at one or both parents; and
- Potentially relief, especially if they sensed discord in the relationship.
It will still take time for adult children to work through these complex emotions and adjust to their parents’ divorce – even if they no longer live at home.
Adult children often play a larger role in their parents’ divorce
According to PsychCentral, a divorce might impact adult children more since they often play an active role in their parents’ divorce. This is because:
- Adult children may try to play the role of mediator in their parents’ divorce to reduce conflict;
- They might also try to assist parents during the divorce proceedings; and
- They may try to provide emotional support to both parents.
This can put adult children in a tough situation. It might also make adult children feel like they are stuck in the middle and must choose sides.
Parents should keep this in mind as they approach telling their adult children about their divorce. Even though their children are mature and older, it is still important to take care of the whole family during the divorce process.