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How to talk to adult children about gray divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2019 | Divorce |

In the last decade, a greater number of older couples have filed for divorce. Legal professionals refer to this as gray divorce, and it occurs when couples over the age of 50 end a marriage. Although society doesn’t typically associate divorce with couples that have been together for 20 or more years, more people who have been together for decades and have adult children have begun to separate. 

The children may be out of the house, but a divorce will still be hard on them. Parents still need to be aware of their adult children’s feelings and let them know of the separation in a mature manner. 

Announce it face-to-face

The divorcing parents need to pick a good time to tell the children about the divorce. Although face-to-face conversations are best, sharing the information during a holiday when everyone is together is not a good idea because it damages that special time. If children do not come by the house often anymore, then the parents may want to inform them about the divorce over a video messaging program. When children can see their parents, they may feel more comfortable asking questions. 

Avoid assigning blame

Even if one spouse cheated on the other, the parents should avoid mentioning that for the time being. Parents can often gauge how their children will react to certain information and may be able to discuss what happened at a time when emotions are less charged. 

Parents should never tell their children, “We stayed together for you.” This will only make children think they caused their parents to be unhappy for so many years. It is up to the parents to take responsibility for the separation. It is never the children’s fault. 

Expect sadness and anger

Hearing their parents will divorce is hard for children of any age. They may lash out in anger, and if so, parents should let them express their emotions. It is natural to feel angry. Parents may want to suggest that an adult child seek therapy to sort through the feelings and come to terms with the new circumstances.