Last week I attended a workshop, which I organized for a professional mediators association, dealing with adult children ( 16 or 17 years old, and up) of divorce. It is a topic that most mediators (and parents) spend little or no time discussing, (“How are the kids taking the divorce?” “Great. They are OK with it”). Not surprisingly, the workshop was titled : The Invisible Children”.
Although there are no parenting plans or access schedules to develop, there are many issues that face adult children as family structures change. Sometimes, the adult chldren reverse roles with a parent, giving advice and support, or being a confidant. Other times children who are just coming out of adolesence themselves and trying t0 establish their adult identities, find that their assumptions about family are turned upside down. Others fear that they will have new responsibilities for taking care of their younger siblings, or wonder if they will be able to continue attending college. Vacations at home may be particularly stressful and emotionally draining.
Bringing the voices of adult children into the the Mediation or Collaborative Process can also help increase understanding of family and couple dynamics, break through impasse and clarify goals and interests.
Jeffrey Zimmerman, PhD, a clinical psychologist one of the presenters of the workshop, co-authored a book titled Adult Children of Divorce, (new Harbinger Publications). Copies are available from the publisher or at Amazon.com.
Separation & Divorce Mediator & Collaborative Attorney