Divorce can be a difficult experience for everyone in a family, but it is worse when there are children involved. Divorce or separation tends to affect older, middle-aged children differently than younger ones. How so? Here’s what you need to know.
They experience a range of negative feelings
Although older children may not seem to be as emotionally affected by the divorce as young kids, they may still feel a range of negative emotions. These can include sadness and anger about the changes in their lives. They also might worry that they’re responsible for causing it all to happen.
In addition, older children may have concerns about the long-lasting effects of the divorce on their parents. They might also worry about how it will affect them financially and whether they’ll be able to maintain a close relationship with both of their parents going forward.
They may feel obligated to choose sides
Older children may feel caught between their parents as well as relatives, especially if one parent starts dating again. They might worry that they’ll have to belong to an alliance with a parent and not the other. This can be particularly challenging for older children who may want to maintain close relationships with both parents, or if they have siblings from each marriage that are younger than them.
In addition, middle-aged children might feel pressure to align themselves with an extended family member because of their own feelings toward a parent’s new partner. They might also feel pressure to take sides because of a partner’s disapproval, or even their own feelings about the new person in their parent’s life.
They need help and empathy
During a divorce, it’s important for older children to have a strong support system that can help them work through their feelings and thoughts. They should be regularly encouraged to talk about how they feel with someone who will listen without judgment or criticism.
Divorce is never a pleasant experience for anyone in the family, but it can be particularly difficult for middle-aged children. It’s important to understand their challenges and feelings and give them the support and empathy they need during this difficult time.