By: Karen Bigman
Statistically, millennials are divorcing less, but also marrying less. Because of this, those divorcing as younger adults or with younger children have less support available. They’re more likely to be the one family in their child’s class who are separated or divorced, less likely to have single parent families around them, and left with few peers to turn to who understand their situation. Those with even younger children and toddlers who aren’t yet of school age have it even harder — where on the playground are they going to find anyone who understands what they’re going through?
We’re hearing a lot about "Gray Divorce," Baby Boomers being the largest percentage of the population getting divorced. While divorce at any stage in life isn’t easy, those facing middle age and older tend to see more divorces around them. Whether or not there is stigma attached, the subject of divorce around fellow Baby Boomers is hardly taboo. There’s almost always someone around to ask for advice, for an attorney referral or for tips on how the family coped with divorce.
Millennials likely have seen many of their friend’s parents divorce or even experienced their own parent’s divorce, so they were probably aware of the possibility of divorce when they got married. Plus, prenuptial agreements are not just for the wealthy anymore — they're more popular than ever. Yet, when I see these clients, they are almost always one of the few or the only one amongst their peers that are getting divorced or breaking up a long-term relationship.
Younger adults are facing different issues associated with getting divorced:
- There aren’t many peers who are going through the same thing.
- They are seeing friends around them getting married and starting families.
- They are much more isolated and likely to feel they have nowhere to turn.
- When younger children are involved, they are now faced with raising their children as single parents.
- They have amassed less wealth which puts a greater financial strain on both parents.
- They will be faced with the stigma of being divorced when they re-enter the dating world.
What can you do if you’re facing divorce as a younger parent?
1. Look for a community of single parents. There are local websites for young families in almost every city. Typically, there’s a meetup of sorts for single parents. Meetup.com is one website that offers many options.
2. Practice what you’re planning to say when you see other couples – and be prepared for their responses. They are likely to be shocked more so than peers of Baby Boomers.
3. Help your children with the language to tell their friends why they have two different homes. There will be more logistics as well for playdates etc. that you’ll have to work out and explain to other caregivers and parents.
4. Do your best not to badmouth the other parent to anyone. That will only hurt you and your child and eventually alienate either one of you, or both.
5. Talk to your close friends that are getting married or having babies and explain how you feel. You may delight in other’s joy or it may bring you down. It’s completely normal to run from those people but they’re probably the people that know you best. Know your limits but don’t hide.
6. Seek out support – a Therapist, Divorce Coach, Clergy – someone outside your community that you can be honest with and share your ups and downs.
Getting divorced is one of the most difficult life events you will be faced with at any age – but remember that you don’t have to do it alone.
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