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Why Some Adult Gray Divorce Kids Aren't Upset

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This article is the second in a series on why some adult children of gray divorce are relieved when their parents divorce.

Over the past three decades, couples aged 50 and over around the world have been divorce in record numbers, a phenomenon called “gray divorce”. The children of these divorced couples are adult children from a gray divorce.


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In my last post, you met George (assumed name), a grown child of a gray divorce. He was relieved when his 50-year-old mother filed for divorce. When he was growing up, his father hurt him with his violent emotional and mental behavior. When he was a child and teenagerhis father teased him frequently and guilt-tripped him, saying he was joking and having fun, but it wasn’t fun for George. He described his father as an aggressive guy who became angry, belligerent and cruel every day when he drank it. alcohol.

George watched his father lie to his mother, hide the bills that came in the mail, belittle and gas lamp his. Her mother worked to support them because her father was laid off from many jobs. Growing up, he overheard his mother asking his father to get a job to help support the family, but he never did and blamed her for not bringing in more money. She begged him to get help for his gambling problem, but he refused. As a child and teenager, George was afraid to confront his father about his cruel and abusive behavior. He moved on as soon as he graduated from high school.

George told me that during his parents’ divorce, when his father repeatedly tried to bully his mother into continuing to support him financially, he finally stood up to his father and said, “I lived with you all these years. I know who you are. “Leave my mother alone.”

His father said to him, “How dare you talk to me like that! You died for me.

Negative childhood experiences were ubiquitous in George’s childhood and teenage years.

What are negative childhood experiences (ACE)?

psychology today definitions negative childhood experiences as”a range of negative situations a child may face or witness while growing up.

Here are examples of ACEs that George experienced:

ACEs can impact child health and development and negatively affect lifelong health and well-being.

George and his mother endured trauma— emotional, mental and financial abuse from his father.

What is a trauma?

Canadian physician and author Gabor Mate, in his book The Myth of Normalcy: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture, defines trauma as “an inner hurt…trauma is primarily what happens to someone as a result of difficult or hurtful events that have happened to them; it is not the events themselves. Trauma n it’s not what happens to you but what happens inside you… Think of a car accident where someone suffers a concussion: the accident is what happened; it is the wound that lasts. Similarly, trauma is a psychological wound lodged within us the nervous systemmind and body, lasting long after the original incident(s), triggerable at any time.

For our therapeutic work together, George chose a trauma-focused therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). The EMDR Institute, founded by the late Dr. Francine Shapiro, developer of EMDR in the 1980s, describes EMDR as “a psychotherapy which allows people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that result from disturbing life experiences. Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy, people can reap the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. Using EMDR protocols developed by Dr. Shapiro, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.

If you had negative childhood experiences and want to start therapy to heal, find a therapist who offers trauma-focused approaches such as EMDR and trauma-focused. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

To find a therapist, visit Psychology Today’s Directory of Therapies.

Copyright 2022 Carol R. Hughes, Ph.D.