Are you an adult child of divorce? If you are, that probably means you had a much different experience dealing with the divorce than if you had been younger when it happened. Being a child of divorce hurts no matter what but being adult-aged at the time of your parent’s divorce comes with different challenges. This is how things are different when you’re an adult child of divorce.
Your feelings as an Adult Child of Divorce
For some reason, as an adult child of divorce, a lot of people assume that because you are older or because you are out of high school or out of college, you no longer have feelings. Or that your feelings will be dramatically reduced just because of your age. You still have feelings and the divorce still hurts. Many people think that the divorce won’t affect you that much because you are an adult child of divorce. But, it does. Divorce is painful no matter what age you are.
Your finances as an Adult Child of Divorce
Finances tend to be a huge topic in divorce because they are such an integral part of marriage and divorce. When your parents are together, they are probably living together which includes sharing finances. Sharing these finances could mean that they both support one household. This article explains in depth the specific challenges that you may face financially because of your age during the divorce.
After the divorce or during the separation, many couples choose to live in separate households (obviously, because they are divorcing). Going from supporting one household to supporting two households is a much larger financial burden. There are now two rents or mortgages, two utility bills, two internet and cable bills, etc. In addition to this, each house needs it’s own supply of furniture and other household items such as utensils. One household may have had one couch, one blender, and one coffee table. Now that there are two households, the household that doesn’t end up with these items from the shared household will need one of their own.
Duplicating everything in a household can be very expensive. It is much easier financially to go from two households into one than to split one household into two.
Being an adult child of divorce during this time may mean that your parents are asking you for extra money because you are self-sufficient. They may be low on funds because of legal reasons pertaining to the divorce or just because it is much more expensive to to have a household on your own, instead of sharing with someone.
Relying on parent’s financially still
If you are in college or relying on your parent’s financially, this may also be tricky. Their finances may suddenly be tied up because of the divorce and affording college or your lifestyle may suddenly become a lot harder for you. Maybe one parent no longer wants to support you because they are hiding funds or are doing it out of malice to your other parent.
Your parent’s new relationships
This one gets complicated. At this point in your life you are an adult and you probably have a friendly rapport with your parents. You are likely more friends with your parents than involved in a parent-child relationship. Or you are a young adult and moving more towards that type of relationship.
Since your parents now you see you as more of a friend than a child, they may start talking to you about their new romantic interests, dating profiles, dates they are going on, etc. They may want you to look over their dating profile or set them up on online dating. They may have a new partner immediately and want to introduce them to you.
Any of these can be hard to hear, especially if they want to tell you about the more intimate details of their new dating life or if it is especially early on in their separation. This is when it is especially important to be clear and upfront that you want to be supportive but you don’t want to know every detail that is going on in this arena. This is part of creating boundaries and enforcing them which is so important when dealing with this huge change in life.
Your parent’s relationship with each other
Maybe even more tricky than your parent’s new relationships is your parent’s relationship with each other. This is one that you want to stay completely out of. Even if your parents are separating on good terms, going through a divorce proceeding is grueling, emotions are high and anything can change in an instant.
Much of their relationship during the divorce has to do with their legal divorce proceedings which will deal with money and assets, many of which have sentimental value not only to your parents but maybe to you as well.
They may have strong feelings about what the other is doing during this time. This is another good time to tell your parents that you don’t want to know about the inner workings of their divorce proceedings and to ask your parents to keep everything they say about each other either neutral or positive. You don’t want to hear your parent’s say negative things about each other. This is another very important topic to create and enforce strong boundaries around.
You should not be responsible for mediating between them. They are two adults and it is unfair for them to put you in a position that is in the middle of their fights. You are first and foremost, and always will be, their child. If they need someone to mediate, they should hire an actual mediator.
While you are an adult child of divorce, you are still both of their children and it is unfair of you to be stuck in the middle.
The actual divorce
You are an adult, you may be self-sufficient. The actual divorce will be weird. The family dynamic will be weird. The childhood home you grew up in may get sold. The proceedings could last for years. The emotions are intense. You may have to bounce back and forth between parents when you are visiting. Holidays and family dinners may become awkward. People will say weird things to you or may not know how to relate to you. Acquaintances may push for gossip from you about the divorce proceedings. People will be unusually interested in who you are staying with when you are visiting home if you don’t live nearby.
But, as an adult, it is your choice with whom you spend time with. No one has custody of you and you can create your own boundaries so that you have the time and the space to heal through this too. This might be the one good thing about the divorce happening when you are older. You will not be the center of a custody battle and that is one thing to be grateful for.
In conclusion, being a child of divorce is rarely ever an enjoyable experience. It rocks your world and changes your outlook on life. The challenges you have as a child of divorce are different when you are older. The way people assume your feelings, your financial obligations, your relationship with your parents, with their new partners, and with each other, everything is different.
If you are a parent reading this, trying to understand what your adult child is thinking and maybe why they are not being as supportive as you want them to be, check out this article.
If you want to share your story, ask questions or connect with others who are going through a similar experience, please join us on our forum.