If you’re in your 50s or older and divorcing, you may be grateful that your child is an adult so you don’t have to deal with things like child custody and support agreements and making sure their life isn’t upended any more than necessary. There are still things you need to be mindful of even though your child is on their own and maybe living hundreds of miles away.
Parental divorce can have a serious effect on adult children – particularly if the parent-child bond is strained by parents who see them as confidantes rather than the product of both parents who likely cares about both of them. Here are a few ways to prevent that.
Don’t talk to your child as you would a friend
If you and your child have a close relationship, you may feel comfortable sharing the details of what went wrong in the marriage and more specifically what your spouse did wrong. However, doing that crosses a line and can potentially damage your relationship with your child. While your child has a right to know, at least in general terms, what happened, the details should be saved for friends, therapists, siblings and attorneys.
Don’t expect your child to take sides
Divorcing parents with adult children have to rely on those children to want to be with them. They don’t have a custody order to require them to live with them on certain days. Too often, that makes parents try to get their child to take their side in the divorce. That usually requires disparaging their co-parent. When both parents are doing that, their children often end up not wanting to deal with either of them.
Don’t rely on your child to take care of you
If you’ve ever seen the 1980s movie Nothing in Common with Tom Hanks, which takes place in Chicago, you’ve seen a fictionalized but not-unrealistic view of what can happen when divorcing parents become too reliant on their adult child as they divorce. Adjusting to living alone can be difficult after a long marriage. However, it’s best to rely on others in your support system rather than flip the parent-child relationship on its head.
If you have experienced legal guidance during your divorce, you can work towards the settlement you need to move on comfortably with your life.