The Invisible Children: Adult Children of Gray Divorces

The Invisible Children: Adult Children of Gray Divorces by Lauren Behrman

{Read in 2 minutes}  The topic of the recent New York Times article Never Too Old To Hurt From Parents’ Divorce is one that receives too little consideration: the so-called “gray divorce.”

We give plenty of thought to the effect of divorce on young children, resulting in ample research and accessibility to counseling. That is a good thing, to be sure. But what about divorcing couples who are older and their children are already grown? Increasingly, divorces occur after age 50. How do those divorces affect the adult children? What help is available to them?

As a society, we have traditionally placed the greatest focus on the adultness of such individuals, forgetting that they are still their parents’ children. Regardless of their age, they are still profoundly impacted by their families being torn apart.

I know this from personal experience, and so I found the New York Times article especially refreshing. It is time we open the door on this topic which has remained in the dark for too long.

Divorce can be devastating for children of any age.

The family dynamic the children had known all their lives is now being shattered. Their world is being turned upside down.

Young adults can be especially vulnerable as they are just beginning to establish their own identities and relationships. A divorce can make them question many aspects of their lives.

Divorcing parents often treat their grown children like confidantes. By bringing them into the midst of a messy situation, they create confusion and tumultuous emotions in their children.

My message to grown children of divorcing parents is this: It is perfectly normal to struggle with this difficult situation. Professional support is available, and there is nothing wrong with reaching out for such support. Please feel free to contact us at any time.

My Divorce Recovery

Lauren Behrman, Ph.D.

Jeffrey Zimmerman, Ph.D., ABPP