Families ... generations of strength
Family Life Month Packet 1998
Family & Consumer Sciences
1787 Neil Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43210
Adult Children of Divorce
Sharon Lewis, Extension Agent, Family & Consumer Sciences, Portage/Summit Counties
The divorce of one’s parents is generally one of the most
painful events in life. Researchers have found that chil-
dren experience many fairly predictable stages as they
learn to accept the finality of the divorce and begin to build
sometimes changed relationships with each of the parents.
Most of the current studies concerning the effects of
divorce discuss younger children and their responses to
this stressful family situation.
However, several researchers have explored the impact
parental divorce has on adult children. The results indi-
cate that the disruption through divorce of the parent/
child relationship as late as early adulthood may still
produce some negative effects. Perhaps not surprisingly,
older adolescents and adult children experience much of
the same trauma as younger children of divorcing parents.
They also need to find ways to accept the changes in their
family relationships (Hines, 1997).
Obviously, arrangements concerning custody, child
support, and visitation are no longer issues, but parent/
child contact and emotional support are often greatly
affected. Traditionally, young adults are still dependent
on their parents to assist them in making the transition to
independence. Divorce often creates such a powerful sense
of loss of a parent that the young adult may not feel like the
parent is still available to them. Because the adult child is
in a period of major transition in his or her own life, it is
difficult for him/her to readily accept the changes that the
parent(s) are, of necessity, experiencing. (Aquilino, 1994).
The adult child can reasonably expect to go through a
grieving process when his or her parents divorce. This will
probably include periods of anger at one or both parents.
There may be a strong feel