Mavis Hetherington's For Better or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered (Norton 2002) states that 25% of children from divorce have serious social, emotional, or psychological problems. They are depressed, impulsive, irresponsible, or anti-social. 20% of children in stepfamilies are emotionally troubled in contrast to 10% of children from intact families. Fewer than 20% of young adult stepchildren feel close to their step moms. 70% of young people from divorced families see divorce as an acceptable solution, even if children are present while only 40% of children from intact families have this attitude. With this baggage the pro-marriage generation has a lot of weight to carry up the hill of successful matrimony.

In our work we have also found some common wounds of adult children of divorced parents:

  • The inability to trust in relationships
  • Fear of failure and doom — the sense that "the other shoe is going to drop" any time things go well.
  • Insecurity which causes them to become controlling in relationships or become passive-aggressive and resist the requests of their partner.
  • The inability to communicate effectively.
  • No role models of problem solving or conflict resolution because their parents' only solution to their problems was dissolution.

What are solutions to the wounds of divorce for adult children?

  • Awareness of how your parents' divorce affected you
  • Dealing with the pain of their divorce and moving to a place of healing and forgiveness
  • Putting the unhealthy thoughts and beliefs about yourself and your marriage behind you
  • Learning marriage relationship skills.

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Marriage Skills Can Help Young Couples

Diane Solee, Director of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education, says that with one in two marriages ending in divorce it is time that couples learned that marriage, like any other valuable asset, is a skill. It has to be learned. She states. "I wish that brides could have a bridal registry of marriage skills courses. New marriage research show us what makes marriages work and what causes them to fail. Teaching this to young newlyweds can serve as divorce prevention, a route not available to their parents. All couples disagree. They just need to learn the skills on how to handle them."


In our book, Adult Children of Divorced Parents: Making Your Marriage Work we have designed many specific marriage skills just for adult children of divorced parents. Often ACODP's as we call them respond poorly in marital situations and have no idea why they react in unhealthy ways. The answer to their behavioral dilemmas may be buried deep and awareness of how their parents' divorce affected them can be very helpful. We have developed an exercise called My Parent's Divorce Saga in which the person writes a narrative of his or her parents' divorce including important dates, times, places and feelings. This exercise often unearths important information that leads to healing. It also can show adult children how these wounds are haunting them in their marriage today.

Adult children of divorced parents also internalize certain destructive beliefs that are programmed into their psyches. Beliefs like: