Young children are full of curiosity, wonder, and plenty of energy! Fortunately, they are also full of integrity, so adults must protect them from dangerous circumstances and undue heartaches. But, sadly, that isn't always manageable, especially regarding divorce. Children of couples who choose to divorce often feel like their whole world is turned upside down.
But how does divorce impact older children? What if you are in college when your parents divorce? Or even married with your own family? When the children in the equation are adults themselves, people assume they'll be unmoved by the announcement; that because they left the nest and no longer reside in the same home as their parents, they won't feel their world is crashing down.
In the past, we did not examine the impacts of divorce on adult children often, but that is now changing. Susan L. Brown, a Bowling Green State University sociology professor, completed a study that showed the divorce rate for people over 50 has doubled over the past two decades.
While adults are older, with child-parent dynamics, most people never grow up. We still need our parents for support, and we still need them to love each other. What happens when that love ends or changes substantially? We often call everything we ever believed into question.
The resilience of our parent's marriage is a significant factor in shaping our young lives and mentalities. But, if their connection wasn't as powerful as we believed, what does that imply about relationships? What else about our youth that we believed was true is not? And what does it mean about our marriage and connections? Are we fated to fail at it too? Is separating in our DNA?
Adult children whose parents delayed until they were grown up before separating may now feel guilty that their parents were unhappy for so many years. However, maintaining this guilt, whether justified or not, feels overwhelming.
We assume that our parents will get old together and care for each other during their golden years. But, once they separate, then what transpires? Who cares for them? In many circumstances, that falls on adult children.
And what about their grandchildren? Adult kids have to manage their own anguish and despair, and they must support their children in coming to terms with their grandparents divorcing.
If you're an adult whose parents have separated or are presently in the process of divorcing and having trouble coping, don't be embarrassed or ashamed. The best thing you can do in a moment like this is to talk with somebody who can help you figure out your emotions. A family therapist can help you reduce the guilt and angst you might feel and comprehend that history doesn't need to repeat itself. You can make different preferences in your own life and relationships.
Please get in touch with us if you'd like to explore treatment alternatives or need a marriage counselor in Orlando. In addition, we'd love to discuss how one of our experienced therapists may be able to support you in coping during this overwhelming and confusing time.
Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.