Home > Being Alone > The Impact of Separation on Your Adult Children

The Impact of Separation on Your Adult Children

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 18 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Adult Children Separation Parents

It can be easy to overlook the impact of your separation on your adult children. You can think that because they have left home and have lives and families of their own that their parents’ separation will not affect them.

The truth is, your separation can have a massive impact on your adult children for a number of reasons. That is in no way to say that you should not go ahead with a separation that you want for this reason, far from it, but you do need to be prepared to deal with the fall-out of your decision.

A Surprise Separation

It can be very hard for adult children to deal with a surprise separation. Many parents have bad relationships but are somehow able to hide their difficulties, or parents who have a good relationship that quickly breaks down for whatever reason and want to split up straightaway. This is exacerbated by the very fact that your adult children are no longer there to see the day to day reality of your relationship.

Whatever the reason, a surprise separation can be very difficult as there has been no time to get used to it. Even though you will be dealing with your own pain and practical issues due to the separation, you need to accept that you must still be available to talk to your adult children about how they feel. Be careful not to lean on them too much. Although a brief swap round of the parent/child relationship is not too damaging if you can all handle it, don’t bad mouth your ex-partner – their parent – if you want to maintain a healthy relationship.

Separation after a Bad Marriage

Just because many people can cover up a bad relationship, most people can’t and you will be painfully surprised to realise just how much your adult children know about how bad your relationship is. Be aware that even if your adult children don’t know the actual details about your relationship, whether that’s affairs, money issues, addictions or whatever, they will know there is something wrong. More than likely they will blame themselves and think that they should or could have made a difference.

Your relationship issues will also be the blue-print for your adult children’s own relationships. If they’ve seen their mother put up with a domineering husband, or their father cover up for an alcoholic mother, then you are essentially telling them that this is acceptable behaviour. Although the separation will impact on them, you will at least have this opportunity to say that you can have healthier relationships and that it is right to leave a bad marriage that is unsalvageable.

Separating after a Good Marriage

There’s the rub. You may want to separate, but if your adult children feel that you have not made enough effort to make the marriage work, you will either need to explain to them why the relationship was unsalvageable or why you want to leave anyway.

You must give your adult children credit for being able to discuss relationships in an open, truthful manner. Although you still must not bad mouth your partner to their children, you can be honest to a point. No secrets or unnecessary details are a good starting place, even though you will need to be tactful and eloquent in how you discuss the separation.

Above all, give your adult children time to come to terms with the fact that the reality of their childhood may differ to what they thought, and this can take time and be very painful.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • son
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    my ex parther want me to sell our family home or buy him out . i would like to stay in my home . dont know wot to do ...
    19 August 2019
  • SouM
    Re: Buy Out The Mortgage From Your Ex
    Me and my ex partner (not married) own a house as tenants in common. He has put 80% of the deposit and I have put 20%. We…
    10 August 2019
  • NIC
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    Hi i left my ex 4 years ago and I remained in the jointly owned property with our 2 kids. Since we split I have paid the…
    3 August 2019
  • Minam
    Re: Should You Tell Your Ex You're Dating Again?
    I don't want my ex back but I feel sorry for him he always cry for and I've found someone new .I broke up…
    11 July 2019
  • Mrs Jennifer Swift
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    Hi I split up with my partner 2 years ago and moved out, we have 2 children together, we agreed on splitting everything down the…
    8 July 2019
  • Oli
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    My wife and I are separated. Have two children. She lives in the house we jointly own with our children. Up until late last…
    23 June 2019
  • Juju
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    A friend brought his house with his then girlfriend 10years ago. She left after 2 years never paying anything but he now wants…
    10 June 2019
  • Shelley
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    I have been separated from my husband for 5 years.He wont sign divorce papers and my name is on mortgage.How can I get my divorce
    9 June 2019
  • Lawrence Ham
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    my wife has a house with her ex, (not married) she wants out of the mortgage so we can move forward. How do we get her name off…
    21 May 2019
  • Tara
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    Hi there I have a slight problem with my partner we always angry with each other we live in the same house but not as partner I…
    13 May 2019