Divorce at any age is a traumatic experience. Whether the marriage lasted for a few months or several decades, the fallout of a failed union is legally complex and emotionally charged. Loyalties among children may divide an entire family. Disparaging statements coming from either parent cut deeply.
Navigating through the life-changing event presents countless challenges, particularly for parents over 50 who are ending their marriages and adult children who are dealing with the aftermath.
A new normal
Gray divorce is on the rise as people live longer and enjoy a better quality of life. With more years to look forward, the older population is starting to spread their proverbial wings and create new, post-divorce chapters.
The “new normal” does require parents to understand that children of any age need reassurance after what can be a traumatic event. First and foremost, reassuring them is paramount. A different dynamic takes form. However, what doesn’t change is the uniqueness of parent-child relationships, regardless of age. Good conduct counts.
Disparaging the ex-spouse to the children may create more unnecessary drama and damage more than one familial relationship. Many divorced parents try to get their children to align with them and believe the narrative that led to the marriage ending. Children of divorce may try to “read between the lines” regarding the events that led to the separation.
Adult children often slide into role reversals that result from the guilt that they could have done more. Some see themselves as confidants. Parents must maintain a parental relationship and set clear boundaries. While continuing to love their children, they should not see them as peers.