‘Gray Divorce’ Affects Millennials as Parents Split
“As an adult, you thought you did not have to worry about parents and you thought they were all set, and now they’re leaning on you too much…” A recent study by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research has shown the major impacts of a gray divorce on their adult children.
Adult children perform a sort of role switch with their parents and find themselves having to care for them instead.
As always, we encourage spouses to discuss the possibility of divorce with their families, but children no matter the age, should not decide the end result.
It used to be that the longer a marriage lasted, the less likely it was to fail. But in true Baby Boomer fashion, the generation now well into their 50s has never been one for the status quo. The group known for challenging authority and tradition is now challenging marriage trends, with more and more boomers seeking divorce as they age, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green University in Ohio. Meanwhile, divorce among those under the age of 35 has decreased significantly.
Over the past two decades, so-called “gray divorce” has doubled for those over the age of 50. And for those over 60, well, it’s tripled. But boomers aren’t the only ones affected by the breakup of their unions.
Their millennial children must cope with a change in family dynamics that can come as quite a shock, and that’s made more difficult by the assumption that it shouldn’t affect them as much because they aren’t children anymore, said Terry Gaspard, a therapist and author who has spearheaded efforts to bring light to the issue. Gaspard penned the book, “Daughters of Divorce,” which delves into the impact gray divorce has on adult children.
“There’s this message you’re getting that you should be doing fine. You’re all grown up and this is your parents’ decision,” said Gaspard. “Adult children of divorce feel they don’t have anyone to talk to about it.”
Citing longer life spans and empty nests, boomers unhappy in a marriage no longer see divorce as something too late to do, researchers say. Millennials, on the other hand, are pushing off marriage altogether, which may be why the demographic under age 35 is seeing a sharp decrease in divorce.