The Price They Pay: Older Children and Divorce

By Barbara S. Cain: Barbara S. Cain is a clinical supervisor at the Psychological Clinic at the University of Michigan. She has written frequently on the impact of divorce on parents and children. February 18, 1990, The New York Times. 

THEY WERE MORE SANGUINE ABOUT Laura. She was, after all, in college and on the far side of growing up. They said she had loosened her tether to the family and was no longer hostage to the twists of their fate. They allowed that she would be shaken for a time by their divorce, but insisted that before long she would find her balance and regain her stride. Her younger brothers, on the other hand, were a constant source of nagging concern. At home and in the eye of the storm, they were in closer range and at higher risk. But Laura, they said, was less vulnerable. Not to worry, Laura would be fine.

So go the prevailing attitudes toward college-age children of a midlife divorce. Moreover, these assumptions appear to be shared by social scientists and cultural tribunes who have rigorously investigated the impact of divorce on younger children but have, nevertheless, overlooked the plight of a college-age population, even though statistics show increased incidence of divorce during midlife, thereby involving greater numbers of young adult offspring.

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