Divorce and family NYC mediator Jennifer Safian of Safianmediation.com gives some tips to senior couples with adult children and families looking to divorce.There is more and more talk about the Gray Divorce. People are healthier and living longer, starting second, even third careers. Along with that, some are getting divorced later in life with the hope of possibly finding new love as well.

Alicia was helping her 9-year-old son with his homework when she got a call from her mother: “I want you to  know that I can no longer continue to live with your father and that we are getting a divorce!”

Alicia knew that her parents’ marriage was not perfect – whose marriage is anyway – but she never expected that at age 38, she would be facing her parents’ divorce.

Divorcing parents of adult children may not foresee any major issues because their children are adults and have their own homes and families. Unfortunately, the effects of divorce can be as painful for adult children as for younger children, and care should be given as to how you relate to your children during these hard times.

Grandpa and Grandma, here are a few tips you may want to keep in mind:

  • You and your spouse should do your best to talk together to all your adult children about your impending divorce. No one wants to carry this kind of secret information.
  • Do not use your adult children as your confidants: children, no matter what their age, do not want to hear anything negative about the other parent, nor the many details of your divorce.
  • Your adult children may feel that their whole life was built on a “lie.” They came from a united home and suddenly, they find out that their childhood home, their backbone, is being ripped apart. Children are children no matter what their age and, in time of need, will most often turn to their parents for support. Who do they talk to now? Mom? Dad?
  • Do not expect your adult children to take care of you just because you made the decision to get a divorce. It is hard enough to see their parents getting divorced without carrying a new single parent while at the same time raising their own family.
  • Adult children of divorce are more aware of the pain their parents are going through than younger children, just because they are adults.
  • Your divorce may trigger doubts in your adult children’s minds about the stability of their own relationships, and although there is not much you can do about it, just being aware and attentive to their state of mind is important.
  • Discuss with your adult children who will tell the grandchildren and what they will be told. Your adult children have the final say on how to handle their own children.
  • While visiting the grandchildren, please make sure not to say anything negative about the other grandparent. The grandchildren would be very distressed to hear criticism of their loving grandparents.

Do you have any other helpful tips for parents of adult children getting a divorce? Please share them by posting them in the reply box below for other people to read.

Comments & Replies from Social Media
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The effects of divorce can be as painful for adult children as for younger children, and care should be given as to how you relate to your children during these hard times.” This is true and ignorance is not bliss, especially to those who are harmed by the ignorance of others – in this case their parents/grandparents.

By Mark B. Baer (via LinkedIn)

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Let me preface my comments by saying I am happily married for 40 years now (to the same spouse) with 4 adult children, 10 grandchildren, and 2 greaties…

My parents were divorced after 31 years. my wife and I had just celebrated our 10th anniversary, had our 4 children, and we were shocked to be told this. It bothered me, not because of the divorce, but because of how they reared my siblings and I to be strong in our faith, and believe in the sanctity of our vows. And, because they were so vehement in their anger, and so totally resigned to the divorce. There was no debate, and there was no explanation given. Actually never has been. My parents are both remarried, my father for 20+ years, my mother on her 3rd (the 2nd passed away). They still communicate, still show up at weddings and funerals, and there is simply no recrimination.

I guess my point is, divorce isn’t good or bad, unless people make it so. I won’t divorce because or not because my parents did, and the effects are controllable if efforts are made to minimize gossip and back-stabbing. But, there is always that pain that settles in when I think about it, even after 30 years. I have gone through the grief cycle, but every once in awhile, I would love to have them make that choice differently. The partners they are with now are fine, and I love all of them, but it took some getting around the pain. Guess that defines my situation, and hope it expands insight for all.

By Buddy Thornton (via LinkedIn)

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Thank you for your thoughtful and helpful article Jennifer!

Sheri Russell  (via LinkedIn)

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Great article Jennifer. Thank you for sharing. There are adults and there adults. Like divorcing couples, adult children of divorcing couples come in all shapes and sizes, with varying degrees of nee/ability to be supportive of a divorcing parent. From the adult special needs child (an adult by chronology only) to the high functioning adult child who may or may not be aligned with one of their parents, there are as many variations as their are parties. Only a non-litigated process like mediation, collaborative divorce, principled negotiation or cooperative divorce can address the unique strengths and needs of each family in transition.

John J. Ready  (via LinkedIn)

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Very timely article and it is amazing how pertinent your tips are for separating parents of any age!

Gary Direnfeld  (via LinkedIn)

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The Gray Divorce seems to be in epidemic proportions now days. I hear from clients that are going through the process say, I might have 10-15 good years left. I do not want to spend them being miserable. You made some extremely good points about about the children and grandchildren of these seniors and how they should react. Divorce is never easy at any age. It’s seems the older you are the more people they have to get involved.

Donna Ranieri  (via LinkedIn)

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I am now a CDFA and Financial Neutral/Advocate, but I was the adult child of divorcing parents. My Mom had passed away, and we were pleased when Dad remarried. But their marriage lasted only a few years, as their lifestyle goals were different, and my Dad felt he had no time to waste. My brother was divorcing after 20 years, as well, at the time. The burden of all those separations on my own marriage was heavy. I was glad that Dad had (another) fresh start. However, I felt a bit adrift, and became uncomfortably aware of the shakiness of my own anchor. Positive communication is just as important for adult children as for younger ones.

Adrienne Rothstein Grace  (via LinkedIn)

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Jennifer Safian

jennifer safian. divorce and family mediator
divorce and family mediation
upper east side of manhattan (nyc)
new york, ny
(212) 472-8626
info@safianmediation.com
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