Most people assume that divorce is easier on grown up children than younger ones. After all, adults are more accustomed to stress and usually capable of handling disappointment. However, many adult children experience great difficulty when their parents split up. Here are some ways adult children of divorce and younger ones react to the change:
Many people grow up recognizing their family’s imperfections. They might see or hear their parents argue once in awhile. Still, studies reveal that no one expects their parents to divorce, even after serious fights. Adults are assured about the continuity of their family structure, since they have lived with their parents for so many years. Younger children have had less time with their parents, but they, too, expect things to remain the same.
In numerous studies, adult children were shocked and surprised by their parents’ announcement that they were splitting up. Many bragged about their parents’ ideal partnership. As you might expect, having such parents break apart is traumatizing.
For adults, it becomes difficult to decide whom to visit on holidays. In some cases, parents go on to have kids with new partners, and this leaves their adult children feeling alienated.
For younger kids, there is a lot less expectation or understanding of divorce, even in a dysfunctional family. In many cases, small children can’t fathom the possibility of a parental split because all they know is their family unit and home. The divorce can directly affect them emotionally, economically, and socially.
Sometimes one parent will be granted sole custody and children will have to adapt to seeing the other parent far less often. They may have to move to a new place or neighbourhood, and could even lose contact with one parent. Even if there is abuse or extreme conflict between parents, children below the age of 19 have great difficulty understanding this major life change, and adapting to their changed living situation.
Divorce is devastating for all family members, whether they’re adult children or young kids. If you need someone to talk to about your family dynamic or your parents’ divorce, call Depression and Relationship Counselling Services at (519) 253-1519. We care.