Divorce is a major life event that affects not only the divorcing couple, but their dependent children as well. Being a child of divoreced parents can change the way a person approaches romantic relationships as an adult.
What Does Statistic Say?
According to Jack W. Carney-DeBord, Ohio’s licensed family law attorney, the divorce rate in the U.S. for first marriages is believed to be between 36% and 42%. He believes that children learn from their parents who and how to love. Once they become adults themselves, these children realize how their parents’ separation affected their approach to romantic relationships.
Furthermore, as stated by the General Social Surveys (GSS), 18 percent of adults who were raised in a complete family have ever been divorced or separated, compared to 28 percent of those who lived in a non-intact family.
How Children of Divorced Parents Deal with Love?
If you are a child of divorced parents or you are dating someone who is, it is important that you understand the view of love and relationship that children of divorce have. This will help you adjust your expectations, better understand your partner’s needs and improve your communication.
In this article we will give you the insight in different expectations children of divorced parents have as adults, when it comes to relationships.
1. Children of divorced parents long for stability and highly value commitment.
If your partner is a divorced parents’ child, he or she may be in high need of stability and commitment in a relationship. Parents’ divorce most likely brought a lot of instability in their lives. They lost a connection with a good friend or had to leave their school. Maybe they stopped seeing their grandparents and other members of extended family.
In addition, the divorce carried a realization that mom’s and dad’s promises that everything would remain almost the same were just empty words. A kid of divorced parents knows from a personal experience that actions mean much more than words. Behaviors speak louder than words, so try to avoid empty promises. Show it instead of saying it.
2. They struggle with fear of loss and abandonment.
Many adults that experienced parental divorce went through a feeling of loss and rejection at the time. They probably felt alone and without support while family was going through a difficult life change. This fear of abandonment is usually irrational at their adult age. Nevertheless, kids of divorced parents tend to carry it over into their adult relationships. They may be demanding, insecure and anxious.
3. As adults, children from non-intact families may have trust issues.
According to American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, while parents may be devastated or relieved by the divorce, children find this life event perceive as a serious threat to their security. In some cases parents feel so hurt or overwhelmed by the divorce that they may turn to the child for comfort or direction. This can add to the pressure and stress a child is experiencing.
Furthermore, divorce can be misinterpreted by children unless parents tell them what is happening and what they can expect in future.
If experience of parents’ divorce remains as an unclear and overwhelming memory, these children may be very guarded and always question their partner’s intentions and feelings and have other trust issues as well. They might misinterpret certain partner’s actions as lack of love and support.
For example, if a partner works late hours, a divorce child might suspect that partner is having an affair. Or if a partner forgets an important date like wedding anniversary or birthday, children of divorced parents may believe that partner doesn’t love them anymore. They tend to inspect partner’s behavior and actions in detail, which can be exhausting for both parties.
4. They may be ambiguous towards marriage.
According to the General Social Surveys, children of divorced parents tend to have less positive attitudes towards marriage, while having more positive attitudes towards divorce. Consequently, negative attitude towards marriage leads to reduced commitment in a relationship.
In addition, parents’ separation can affect children’s sexual behavior once they reach adult age, which subsequently affects the stability of their relationship and raises their uncertainty of the institution of marriage.
What is more, parental divorce raises children’s likelihood of divorce. According to one study, adults who experienced parental divorce as children, have 38 percent higher chance of divorce than people from intact families.
5. Adults that experienced parental divorce may have high expectations.
People that went through parents’ divorce as kids usually don’t want to waste time on relationships that won’t work. They are in search for ‘the one’. Therefore, they tend to inspect every detail of a relationship, from the first date. People from non-intact families tend to see imperfections rather than assets when enter a relationship and expect their partner to prove them wrong.
6. Children of divorced parents may have hard time breaking up.
I used to have a client who had been dragging her unsuccessful relationship for years. Every time we met, she would talk big how unhappy she is, however this statement would always be followed with another one, “But I think that we ca make it if we try harder”.
When it comes to splitting up, children of divorced parents tend to try to extend the dying relationship to the latest. They want to believe that true love never dies and deserves to be fought for. Therefore, they may be reluctant to admit that is over when it clearly is. Likewise, divorce children may be prone to blame themselves for the break up, the same they did as children when their parents were splitting up.
7. People from divorced homes have lots of doubts.
Kids of divorced parents question everything. They need to be reassured that they are loved. They are constantly seeking confirmation that partner won’t leave them. As adults, children of divorce feel insecure when it comes to emotional involvement and can be overwhelming and demanding to their partners sometimes.
According to some surveys, half of all American children will witness the breakup of a parents’ marriage. Of these children, close to half will also see the breakup of a parent’s second marriage. This may be the a core reason of their insecurity and issues with trust once they start dating.
8. They are Attentive Companions
There was a girl in my child’s class who used to care about everybody. If a friend gets hurt during the recces, she would comfort a child and take it to the office. During the play, the other kids used to call her ‘mommy’. She was also very caring and gentle towards the animals too. So, I can’t say I was surprised when my little one came home one day very confused and asked me, “Why Rubbia’s mommy and daddy live in separate houses?” Rubbia was a child of divorced parents.
Despite their insecurity and tendency to question everything, the children of divorce can be caring and attentive partners. Reason for this probably lays in the fact that they had to act as caregivers while their parents were going through separation. Instead of parents comforting them, these people had to take care of mom and dad during hard times.
According to, Sharon Brooks, author of “If Your Parents Divorced, Will You Too? How to Break the Cycle of Divorce and Create a Successful Relationship of Your Own”, another reason for this behavior is fear of abandonment. She states, “We believe if we sacrifice our own needs to please our partner, he/she will never abandon us”.
9. They have very good communication skills.
Witnessing the hard experience of parental divorce, children learned what a lack of communication can lead to. That is why these people usually develop respectable communication skills when they reach adult age. They want to know the truth in every moment, no matter how painful it may be.
The same goes in the opposite direction. People that come from a family that suffered divorce are usually straightforward and open in communication with their partner. Most of the time, you will know how your partner feels and what you can expect.
10. They stand with both feet on the ground.
People who went through the harsh experience of divorce in their own family, don’t wear the pink glasses and believe in fairy tales. They know love is not enough. Although they are kind of always on the search for the perfect one, these people are aware that love relationship can have a tough ending.
Growing up in divorced homes, they learned what love does not look like. Therefore, they may even be cynic about love. However, people that witnessed their parent’s divorce will appreciate you for being loyal and sincere.
11. Children of divorced parents know what they want.
They don’t take love for granted. Adults that live experienced mom and dad’s divorce put a lot effort in making their relationship works. They know that love relationship may have different outcomes and that they need to work on it to make it successful. They will be clear in their expectations.
12. And yes. They are sometimes very hard to love.
For all the aforementioned reasons, adults that experienced parents’ divorce are not easy to love. Their constant requirements, craving for stability and fear of abandonment doesn’t make them easy-to-love partners.
However, if you show patience and support, they will love you to their deepest in return. If you’ve stood the test for someone who comes from divorced parents, you may consider yourself “the one.”
If you are one who is facing difficulty in the relationship or knows someone who does, talking to a relationship counselor always help.