I’m An Adult Child Of Divorce. My Age Doesn’t Make It Any Easier

“When My Parents Split Up” is a HuffPost series that explores what it’s like to have your parents divorce at all ages, from infancy to adulthood. Want to share your experience as a child of divorce? Email us at divorce@huffingtonpost.com. 

Two years ago, Liz Greene’s 50-something parents did the unexpected: They told her they were getting a divorce. 

Greene, then 28, knew the separation was a long time coming, but the news still took her by surprise. Today, she has trouble recalling how they even broached the subject. 

“It was such a life-altering moment, I’m surprised I don’t remember what they said to break the news,” she told The Huffington Post. 

Below, the Boise, Idaho-based writer tells us what it’s like to have your parents split up when you’re an adult yourself.

Breaking The News: 

“I don’t recall the exact moment they broke the news. They had been leading up to it for a while. Each of my parents felt the other’s personality had changed dramatically in the 30 years they were married. Mom wanted marriage counseling — dad didn’t. My mother had expressed to me on a few different occasions that if dad didn’t start acting like he cared, she’d move out. I think in the end, they were both emotionally exhausted.” 

The First Few Years:

“It’s been two years since they divorced and I think the hardest part has been seeing my mom cry as my dad moves on. I was pretty angry with my dad for a while after he started dating. I felt like it was too soon and that the least he could do was take some time to publicly mourn his marriage. Mom hasn’t really dated at all. When it comes to experiences that are unique to having my parents divorce in my late twenties, it definitely comes down to being viewed as a shoulder to cry on rather than a child. I think my parents forgot I was their daughter for a while. I was dragged into the middle of things continuously, like some poor excuse for a mediator.”  

 The Impact: 

“I’ve always been fairly bad with confrontation — I tend to shy away from it. I’ve bottled most of my emotions during the last two years and there’s no way that’s good for my mental state. I haven’t told my father that I wish he had waited at least a year to date. I haven’t told my mom that seeing her cry every time my dad is brought up makes me feel like absolute garbage. I haven’t told either of them that if they CC me in one more email, I’m going to change my email address. I probably should.” 

Her Relationship With Her Parents Today: 

“It’s good on both sides. I spend time with mom on Saturdays and dad on Sundays. It’s a lot like it was before the divorce.” 

The Takeaway:

“If you’re an adult whose parents have recently divorced, you’re going to feel like the rug has pulled out from under you and the world has turned upside down. You’re going to grieve the loss of your parents marriage. You’re going to question a lot of your childhood. Most of all, you’re going to feel like you’re not allowed to feel all of these things because you’re an adult. Nothing is further from the truth. Cry, scream, yell! Lean on your siblings and your friends. Talk to a psychiatrist, seek out a support group. Let out your feelings — don’t bottle them like I did. Also, tell your parents to leave you out of the fight and stick to it!”  

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