Kids at university – let’s get divorced

children walking togetherIt appears to be an ever increasing trend that people are divorcing later in life.  Known as the ‘silver splitters’, many first time divorcees are now over the age of sixty.  When children leave for university or leave home for other reasons, it often acts as a trigger for parents to re-evaluate their situation.  It is not uncommon to conclude that they do not want to spend the rest of their lives – which is now a longer period than ever – with the same person.  They would rather be on their own, even if poorer, than with someone from whom they have grown apart.  There is always the chance of meeting someone else as of course.

As parents move on in their situation, their children too are also moving to a new situation.  If they are at university, this new situation can in fact be very daunting.  It is actually a time when children seek the reassurance of “home” more than ever, something to fall back on  when difficulties arise.  The security of their family, the familiar, their childhood home, constancy, is all suddenly threatened.

A good friend of mine is a counsellor who works at a local university.  Many of her student clients have difficulty settling at university, not simply the trauma of leaving home for the first time, but the fact that this reawakened the effects of their parents’ separation in their childhood or more recently.  The sense of loss that children can feel if the family home is sold is often underestimated, particularly if they are deemed to be adults who have “left”.  It is a recognised fact that one trauma – leaving home – can merge with and be made worse by the reawakening of previous traumas.

This is not to suggest that parents shouldn’t separate, but just to highlight the fact that children may need your support more, not less, at the time they leave home.

Other issues are more important when dealing with divorce later on in life – pensions in particular – and if the parties are tempted to downsize, where will their children “come back to”?

Older children will want to retain a good relationship with both parents and the family will need to work together to ensure that is the case.  Children will want the reassurance that they can still be close to both parents without upsetting either one and that both parents will be fully involved in their future life of weddings, grandchildren, etc.

So, children leaving home may be a trigger to consider divorce or separation, but don’t forget that those children still need you as parents.

For more information or to discuss further please contact Nicky Gough on 07711 527968 or email


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