If you’re in your 50s or older and considering divorce, you’ve got a lot of company. Many more empty-nester couples are deciding that they want to go into the “second act” of their lives on their own. That means that a lot of adults are dealing with parental divorce for the first time.
It’s crucial not to underestimate how significantly your divorce will affect your adult children. That’s certainly no reason to stay together if you’re unhappy. However, you can prevent your divorce from damaging other family relationships.
Parental divorce can alienate adult children from one or both parents. It can turn siblings against one another. It can even harm your children’s relationships with their own spouses and partners. Let’s look at what you can do to prevent this kind of fallout.
Don’t minimize your children’s feelings
Parental divorce can come as a shock when it occurs after decades of marriage. Your kids may have believed that you’d learned to live with your problems and would be together until the end. Coming to terms with the fact that this isn’t the case can be difficult.
Let your kids express their feelings, even if they’re painful to hear. They have a right to ask questions, but you don’t have to share more than you feel comfortable with. In fact, it’s better not to overshare – especially if it involves blaming your spouse. Even if you consider one of your children your best friend, save your venting for your actual friends or your therapist.
Don’t encourage taking sides
Maybe you feel your spouse was responsible for the break-up because they were cheating or because they decided not to retire so you could travel around the world as you’d always planned. Whatever the case, don’t encourage your kids to take sides. They should be able to keep both parents in their lives. In too many families, adult siblings side with different parents – creating a family split that’s never resolved.
All divorcing parents – no matter what ages their children are – can help minimize the negative impact of their break-up on them by working to reach amicable agreements on property division, support and more.