Telling your adult children that you are divorcing needs to be done with care. They may be adults, but you are still mom and dad to them. No matter what their ages are, your divorce is bound to be painful for them.
When it comes to breaking the news, it’s important that both parents be there. Beforehand, you and your spouse should decide what you’ll say together. Handle the discussion with the same care and sensitivity that you would with young children.
What to say
Understand that your children may be upset or even angry. They’ve always seen you and your spouse as a unit. Respect their feelings and answer their questions as best you can. Make sure they know that:
- You will always love them. Even adult children need this reassurance. They may even feel guilt over your divorce, just like a younger child, if they think you were staying together in an unhappy marriage to raise them.
- No one is to blame. This is not the time to throw your spouse under the bus. If you assign blame, your children may feel like they’re stuck in the middle and have to choose sides. Be as diplomatic as possible with the understanding that your children love both of you.
- Answer their questions. They may be wondering how this will affect future family events. For example: Who will host Christmas? Will they be expected to travel to both of your houses? Take each question one at a time and answer as honestly as you can without being hurtful.
Your children may think that they are to blame. They may go over childhood memories, looking for signs of trouble. They may wonder was this my fault? Is there anything I could have done to keep this divorce from happening? Again, assure them that they are not to blame, and handle them gently.
Divorce is never easy. Once you’ve told your adult children, consider seeking legal guidance to help you get through this difficult time.