Divorce isn’t easy for a child to navigate at any age. Regardless of how old you are, it can be earth-shattering to learn that your parents are splitting up. Older children (even adults) may logically understand that divorce occurs, but it’s different when your parents are the divorcing couple. The child of a couple remains their child, no matter his or her stage of life when a divorce occurs. Issues can arise, whether a child is 13 or 30.
Consider a daughter. Even if the marriage was not perfect, mom and dad being married was all she knew. If you waited until she left the house to divorce, she will still feel hurt. Even though you waited for her to start a new life outside of the home, the fact that you waited may bring on a feeling of guilt for her, that she was responsible for you feeling miserable and waiting to divorce. She may have have trouble with the reality, even though she is older.
The Divorce May Lead to Doubt
If she didn’t foresee the divorce, she may question what was true in her childhood. Your marriage was an important part of her childhood. She developed ideas about relationships, marriage and family, through what she experienced at home. If the divorce was a surprise, she may question if there was ever love in the home. This may affect her relationships, and she may doubt her ability to maintain a long term commitment or marriage. Consequently, you should discuss how she can choose differently in her life and learn from your mistakes. Also emphasize that you were married for a reason, and that you and your spouse experienced many good times as a couple and a family.
Don’t Place Her in the Middle
Regardless of a child’s age and her ability to hear about adult issues, she doesn’t want to know. Although she understands you may be confused or upset, you are still her parent. Find someone else to discuss your relationship difficulties with, and don’t expect her to take sides just because she is older. She will never feel the same way as you do about your divorce.
Don’t Reveal Too Much Information
She is trying to come to terms with the divorce and may ask for more information. While she may need to know why, you should refrain from including all of the details. She will appreciate not knowing too much.
She Still Needs You as Parents
Although the needs of an older child change, there are still milestones (such as graduations, holidays, weddings) that she wants to share with both parents. Don’t give her the job as mediator, but instead try to work with an ex-spouse so that you can both be a part of these occasions without killing each other. Remember that you are going there to support her.
Learn How to Co-Exist
She is going to need both of her parents, regardless of her age. If she is struggling, try to discuss this with your ex so that both of you can reach out to her. You loved each other enough to become her parents, so remember that she is the reason you need to co-exist.
Contact our Morris County NJ Divorce Lawyers for a Free Consultation
At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, we help clients navigate through every phase of the complex divorce process, from alimony, to child custody, division of assets, and child support. For additional information about how to navigate your New Jersey divorce, contact our Morris County law offices today at 973-828-0829. One of our highly experienced New Jersey divorce attorneys will be happy to answer your questions and provide you with a cost-free consultation.