Gray divorce and the impact on adult children

The end of a marriage has many casualties beyond the husband and wife who have made a life-altering decision. Children are usually the most impacted by their mother and father splitting up. With the “Gray Divorce” trend where parents 50 years or older divorce, older offspring are forced to deal with the emotional aftermath.

Perhaps the last thing that anyone expects as they reach middle-age is their parents splitting up. The shock and trauma are equally significant as what actual children experience. Adult offspring feeling the loss and reeling from the shock can experience negative feelings ranging from irritability to grief. In an almost childlike manner, some may deny that the end of their parent’s marriage is a reality.

The anxiety felt by adult children

The most peaceful and cooperative marital dissolution creates anxiety that affects an adult child’s state of mind and impacts relationships they have with fellow family members and even coworkers. They may not be comforted by the oft-used scenario of it being better that it happened later in life as opposed to childhood. For many, those words do little to soothe the stress.

Offspring getting caught in the middle of two parents divorcing is not exclusive to young children. In many cases, a bad situation becomes worse when one parent starts complaining about the other or wants to keep tabs on the ex-spouse. They may request a blow-by-blow account of anything said about them, putting the adult child in an uncomfortable situation.

Refusal can strain the relationship. For an adult child already dealing with their own issues, divorce neutrality risks alienating one parent. Additionally, adult siblings may take sides, refusing to go to family functions and holiday gatherings because their mother or father might be there. That stance punishes not only adult children but also grandchildren who are already questioning why they don’t see grandma and grandpa together anymore.

Divorce can be complex and emotionally charged. Getting through it at any age presents significant legal challenges, not to mention overcoming the family rancor often inherent in the process.