According to the most recent data from the 2019 American Community Survey, the current divorce rate is 14.9 divorces per 1,000 marriages; this makes it the lowest number it has been since 1970. However, when you try to break down the true percentage and reasons for the marriages that do end in divorce each year, the answer is much more complicated.
In fact, there is one group that is a notable exception to this drop in the divorce rate: the older generation. As of now, one in four people getting divorced in the U.S. are over 50 years old. That means the divorce rate among that age group has doubled since 1990. They are known as “gray divorces”.
Experts have pointed to several different factors that might explain the spike. One possibility is that the pandemic and quarantines could have caused many to call it quits in 2020. Divorce is also more socially acceptable today than it was decades before. Some people often feel like their kids are grown and gone and it’s their turn now.
The Effects of “Gray Divorces” on Adult Children
Many unhappy parents will wait until their kids are adults and out of the house to end their marriage. Their belief is that it will be easier on their kids when they are adults than if they ended things while they’re still young and at home. But parental divorce still affects adult children in a big way. While research to this point is speculative, there is definitely still a huge transition involved.
How to Approach a Gray Divorce for Your Kids
It’s important to remember your kids are your kids, even if they now reside in an adult body. They still have feelings and hopes about their parents. It can be really hard to imagine you any other way than what they’ve always known: you together with your spouse. There are things you can do to remember that and help ease the transition for everyone.
- Understand the impact of your actions. It’s crucial to realize that your kids may be in pain and grieving all they lost as well. To them, you and your spouse have been a parental unit their whole life, now you’re suddenly breaking that up. That will also make it very hard for them to see you with someone new, if you choose to date or remarry again.
- Listen to your adult child’s feelings. Avoiding conflicting feelings will only hurt your relationships with your kids. It may even cause them to withdraw and ignore you as you move on from your divorce. Take the time to listen and try to understand what your child’s feelings and experiences are. Even if you can’t offer a solution, feeling like you’re trying to understand their view will go a long way to saving/strengthening your relationship with your kids.
- Try not to reveal too much. Many divorcing parents make the huge mistake of turning to their adult children for support – too much support. They might fill kids in on what went wrong with the marriage. They might offer up a list of how they were wronged and go into great detail. Even as an adult, this places kids in a position where they feel they have to choose one parent or the other. Too much information will only lead to even more hurt and conflict.
All in all, make sure you answer questions your kids have without revealing too much, maintaining healthy boundaries is super important for preserving relationships. Let your divorce reveal lessons that can strengthen your adult kids relationships. Every relationship has issues, but they can be turned into an opportunity for growth.
Blair Thomas has been a music producer, bouncer, screenwriter and for over a decade has been the proud Co-Founder of eMerchantBroker, the highest rated adult dating merchant account processor in the country. He has climbed in the Himalayas, survived a hurricane, and lived on a gold mine in the Yukon. He currently calls Thailand his home with a lifetime collection of his favorite books.