As more and more retired parents decide to end their marriage, a higher number of adult children are left having to cope with this sudden shift in family structure. Unfortunately, not many studies offer insight into how divorce can affect adult children. One thing is clear, though: they are affected just as much as younger children.
The Institute for Family Studies discusses helping adult children of divorce find their voices. Many adult children suffer in silence. There is a common misconception among many parties that as adults, they should be able to “handle” the split more easily than a young child. On the contrary, early studies have found that adult children may have more trouble adjusting. This could be because they have lived a longer time with their current family dynamic in place.
The New York Times also discusses the negative impact of divorce on adult children. It tends to manifest differently than it does in younger children. Older children tend to be privy to the uncomfortable details of a split due to the aforementioned reasoning that as an adult, they are more capable of handling such matters. Unfortunately, some parents take this too far and use their adult children as replacement therapists on which to dump all of their divorce-related grievances.
All of these factors put a lot of stress on an adult child’s shoulders. Not only do they have to adjust to a new family dynamic, but they also have to play counselor for parents all while maintaining their own adult life. This creates a multifaceted struggle that has yet to be fully studied, but has a very real impact on any family unit.