According to statistics, divorce impacts the future marriages of the children of parents who divorce. Children of divorce are 50% more likely to marry another child of divorce.
Daughters of divorced parents have a 60% higher divorce rate than daughters of non-divorced parents and sons have a 35% higher rate.
But statistics don’t tell the whole story. Many couples learn from their parents’ mistakes or seek out counseling before or during marriage to learn better relationship skills. However, if you are an adult child of divorce that is going through a divorce you can use your childhood experience to shape the outcomes of your own divorce.
Tips for an Adult Child of Divorce to Consider When Divorcing:
Learn from your own experiences
Divorces can play out in many ways. Some are amicable, others are high conflict, most are somewhere in-between. What did your parents do well? Did they facilitate a positive relationship with your other parent? Did they keep you out of the conflict? What did you wish they had done differently? Explore the impact that the choices your parents made had on your experience of the divorce.
It might be little things like your dad continued to help you buy a Mother’s Day present for your mom or how your mom got excited when you did something special with your dad. The list of examples could go on forever, but the idea is to take the best parts of your parents’ divorce and replicate them while leaving behind the things that left you feeling sad, angry, confused or worried.
Take advantage of the options
There are more options for alternative dispute resolution for divorce. You can mediate your divorce or participate in a Collaborative Divorce. Both processes allow you and your spouse to create solutions that work for the unique needs of your family.
They also help you learn how to communicate more effectively so that your post-divorce lives run more smoothly. You will be co-parenting forever and the goal is for your children to feel like children, not children of divorce.
Utilize all of the available resources
There are more specialized professionals for divorce than you may realize. Many people say divorce is 10% legal and 90% emotional, so find a divorce coach or child specialist to help you navigate those areas that will be hot-button issues for your family. Seek out your own therapy or a divorce support group to help you sort through your feelings productively.
Not all resources have to be professionals– your family, friends, and community can offer invaluable support. Surround yourself with friends and family who will be supportive and non-judgmental. Limit your contact with people who will pour fuel on the fire (e.g. “You could really take him to the cleaners…”). When people offer help, take them up on it! You might need a shoulder to cry on, but you might also need a home cooked meal or someone to drop your child off at soccer practice.
Just as you have a narrative about how your parent’s divorce affected you, your kids will also have one. Remember that sometimes divorce can be a positive thing for kids, such as, “My parents fought a lot and it was a relief when they got divorced.” It’s rarely black and white, rather it will have painful pieces and hopefully positive ones as well.