Typically, parents who are going through a divorce must comfort their school-aged children who may not necessarily understand what a divorce is. But if you are going through a gray divorce—or, divorce over the age of 50— then you face a very different challenge: explaining your situation to your adult children. Though your grown children understand the concept of divorce, they may still have a difficult time adjusting emotionally to you and your spouse’s breakup.

Strategies to use

When it comes to a separation or divorce, adults and minors can have similar reactions: shock, anger, confusion, remorse, guilt. Fortunately, there are some strategies that you can use to help them adjust to the news:

  • Treat them like adults and children

There is no need to baby your adult children. But you should also treat them with the same compassion, warmth and nurturing that you would a younger child. Have an adult discussion about your circumstances while keeping your tone maternal or paternal.

  • Reassure them about their family

When their parents divorce, many adults feel as if their entire family life growing up has been a lie. They wonder whether their family as they knew it ever even existed. Remind them that your family bond has always been strong and will continue to be.

  • Use good communication

Children usually can’t communicate as well as adults. But your adult children will have many questions, frustrations and concerns that they will want to address. Whether you talk to them in person or through email, text and telephone, keep in touch and update them regularly.

Without a doubt, the divorce will still have an impact on your grown kids. Divorce is never easy for children to digest. But with time and compassion, your children will adjust as your spouse will move forward with your lives.