Written By: Ann Conway
When we think of adult children and the divorce of their parents, I am troubled by the idea that a lot of people may assume that they can deal with this better than younger children. We focus on Parenting Plans that assure time with each parent for younger children, but for teens we may be more flexible and once they reach the age of majority, eighteen years of age, legally they are considered adults!
I have been reading a book recommended by IACP (International Assoc. of Collaborative Professionals), Home Will Never Be the Same Again by Carol R. Hughes and Bruce R. Fredenburg. I ordered it after thinking the title resonated with me and then I decided to order two additional copies for my two brothers. I suggested to them that we read this book and have a Zoom meeting to start discussing how it related to our experience almost 50 years ago.
I was 22 when my father decided to ask my mother for a divorce. My brothers were 19 and 16.
It was true for me that home was never the same again. In true first-born fashion, I soldiered on and tried to take care of my mother and brothers, feeling the burden. My friends tried to distract me with invitations to various events, family friends said they were sorry, and one family friend wrote me saying he imagined that this must be terrifically difficult for me and that he was there for me if I needed to talk. I did not take him up on this offer, but I will never forget that note and it brings me to tears even today to remember it.
After a few months my brothers and I were ready for our first Zoom meeting late last year. This was the first time we three had discussed our experiences together! It was very powerful and after 90 minutes, we decided we needed to schedule a second meeting. Our third meeting is later this week.
Carol Hughes and Bruce Fredenberg present a clear and convincing picture of the need for adult children of divorce to be able to talk about their experiences and work through the challenges with which they are presented. I hope more collaborative professionals raise their awareness of the fact that divorce presents challenges to children of all ages. Children of divorce have powerful needs as they come to terms with their suddenly altered lives.
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Ann Conway is a social worker with 41 years of experience working for agencies, a HMO and in private practice. She has experience in working with adults and adolescents, couples and trauma work. She is focused now on Collaborative Divorce and is an avid supporter of the collaborative process to assist divorcing couples with this very stressful experience.