Adult Children of Divorce Have Special Needs Too
When we talk about children of divorce, we usually think in terms of children or teens. Most parents are concerned about the initial impact on their children, but once they are grown, it is easy to assume there are no more issues.
However, adult children of divorce have some special needs that ought to be recognized. They need not to become the parents to their parents. The burden of differences or hurts should not be laid on the children. In most cases they love both parents, and each parent has a different view as to why the marriage came to an end.
It is painful for them to hear that their parent either was the one hurt, or the one who did the hurting. This is not their issue.
They also need not to be queried about the other parent, or what is going on in his/her life. If the parents have an amicable relationship, they probably already know as much as is appropriate about each others’ lives. If the relationship is conflicted or even hostile, the children will feel like enemy spies if a parent fishes to find out what’s up with the ex.
Further, they need not to be made to feel guilty about how much or little time they spend with each parent. It is not their responsibility to make sure that each parent gets an equal share of their time and attention. Children may be closer to one parent, but that does not mean they do not love the other. Parents must graciously accept whatever gifts of time are offered.
Finally, they do not need to have every special occasion marred by stress about how to divide their time. At Christmas, especially for married children, they almost need a military strategist to figure out how to traverse the days without offending anyone. There are his parents, and her parents, so depending on whether or not both sets are divorced, they could have anywhere from two to four sets of “parents” bidding for their time.
The parents need to be flexible and willing to have their Christmas visit with the children in the days before or after Christmas. It is impossible to recreate the “old days” when everyone was together on Christmas Day. It makes more sense to think of “Christmas Week”, and let the kids work out a schedule that works best for them.
Adult children of divorce still need consideration and sensitivity. Even though they are adults, the child/parent bond goes way back, with lots of memories and associations. If we remember this, and always take the high road in relation to the other parent, our children will appreciate us, be more relaxed around us, and look forward to spending time with us.
Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychologist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books, CDs or MP3s, visit www.gwen.ca or follow Gwen on Facebook.
Originally published at https://gwen.ca on October 7, 2022.