How To Support Adult Children of Divorce

How To Support Adult Children of Divorce

We recently published an article concerning the rising number of gray divorces. As gray divorces continue to rise, so does our understanding of the effects upon the equally growing number of adult children of divorce, also known as ACOD. 

Robert Emery, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, wrote a piece in 2013 for PsychCentral addressing this phenomenon and states: “Even though they’re no longer kids, adult children may still carry the weight of divorce and unresolved childhood issues on their shoulders. Maybe such effects manifest in their romantic relationships. They may be wary of long-term commitment. Maybe they encounter heightened stress when they’re sifting through their parents’ leftover anger and resentment, still feeling as if they have to choose sides.”

Prof. Emery also cited Jenny Kutner’s 2015 article, featured on, which describes the experience of the ACOD. “Unlike a child, who is usually an innocent bystander during the end of their parents’ relationship, ACODs are, more often than not, active participants; they’re placed in the awkward position of having to provide emotional support for one or both of their parents.”

An article published by the Hello Divorce Team in 2020 points out that their feelings are so caught up with their parents that they may be incapable of considering their adult children. The article also suggests that the legal system reinforces this idea because adult children have no voice in the current court system. They don’t matter.

10 Tips for Parents of Adult Children

Karen Covey, a divorce adviser, provided ten tips to parents to increase awareness of this growing problem.  

  1. Remind your adult children the divorce is not their fault.
  2. Remember, the divorce is their loss also.
  3. You still have to get along with your ex.
  4. Your kids are not there for your emotional support.
  5. Don’t ask or expect your children to take sides or risk destroying your family.
  6. Getting rid of the family home may have an impact on your adult children.
  7. Your divorce may make your children question their relationships.
  8. Your divorce rewrites history.
  9. Holidays will never be the same.
  10. You owe it to your adult children to ensure that you are both financially solvent.

Covey recommends that you keep your children’s best interests in mind, although they are adults. Parents of ACOD should be sensitive to their needs and know that they need time to adjust. Give them the time and space to grieve. Don’t bad mouth your ex. Never use your kids as a therapist.

7 Warnings for Divorcing Parents of Adult Children:

In an article published in Divorce and Children in 2015, Christina McGhee takes a different track in 8 Things Adult Children of Divorce Desperately Want You to Know. Speaking from the voice of the ACOD, McGhee cautions divorcing parents that:

  1. This will rock our world
  2. Your decision will create doubt
  3. We don’t want to be in the middle
  4. Don’t overindulge us
  5. Be gracious
  6. Find some way to talk to each other
  7. Think about your future

Deanna Conklin-Danao, Psy.D.  in an article published in, suggests that parents plan the conversation when divorcing with ACOD. Try to avoid doing it on holiday and don’t call them if they’re away at college.

Consider using Collaborative Divorce or Mediation with your ACOD. Keep your children out of the middle. Confide in others or see a therapist. Your children do not need to know about your issues. 

Finally, you must support and encourage your children to maintain relationships with both parents. Make detailed plans around holidays, birthdays, weddings, and family gatherings. And always keep communication open and honest. 

Divorce, by its nature, is a stressful and challenging process but is sometimes necessary and the best option for everyone in the long run. 

If you’re considering divorce, Brodie Friedman is the top-rated family law firm in Florida. Any family and any situation, our experience and expertise will get you through these trying times. We’re here for you.



With over 30 years of combined experience, Jason Brodie Esq. and Joshua Friedman Esq. will guide you toward realistic goals and provide committed advocacy toward achieving them. They are known throughout South Florida for dedicated client service, tenacity, and success in complex divorce litigation involving property division, child custody, and spousal support. 

To get a better understanding of the qualities our reputation is built on, contact our office in Boca Raton to schedule your initial phone consultation (561) 392-5100

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