Adult Children And Divorce

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Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome

Real Life Experience
Before delving into the nitty gritty of Parental Alienation Syndrom (PAS), some background is in order. My mother has BPD and my father has NPD. They went through a horrible divorce which lasted over a decade, cost over tens of thousands of dollars EACH, and tragically used my brother and me as pawns. I am always researching and reading about topics that will help to further my understanding, increase my clarification, and continue to validate my lifelong experiences with my parents. With the researching and reading, I stumbled upon another aA-HAa topic that knocked my socks off. Before getting into the specifics, I want to review my background as related to this topic.

I was born to my mother and my biological father. When I was a few months old, my mother divorced him in order to marry her high school sweetheart. Her high school sweetheart (Dad) adopted me, and my baby album and baby book were both altered to completely erase my biological father. My biological paternal grandparents were told to come over one day and to say goodbye to me forever. Absolutely no evidence of my birth father remained. No words were spoken about this birth father– that is until my mother needed the information to use.

My mother had an affair with my Dad’s friend, and subsequently, my mother and Dad divorced in the late 70’s. Upon visiting with my mother one weekend when I was living with my Dad, she announces that she can get a hold of my birth father– OUT OF THE BLUE. I was taken back by the question but curious. I remember entertaining the notion, and we did speak to him for a short phone call. After that, I had no interest whatsoever talking to him again. LITTLE DID I KNOW, my mother used this information — that I was in touch with my birth father– to hurt my Dad. She leaked the information, making sure he found out. Throughout the years, she has tried to use my biological father and his family as a weapon when she sees fit.

On the flip side, my Dad, during the divorce, would go through my mother’s things and tell my brother and me all sorts of crazy things about my mother, which truly scared us to bits. He showed us the book, aThe Sensuous Womana and told us that our mother was a sex addict. He showed us her incense burner and told us that she was a drug user. He had a private detective following my mother and us kids, who would snap pictures using flashes in the middle of the night scaring us. He called the police one night after peeking in through the living room window and seeing my brother and me play with my mother and her boyfriend (my Dad’s ex-friend). He reported to the police that my brother and I were getting beat.

My Dad asked me to report activity going on at the housea”such as who came to the house, when cars came and went at night, and what my mother was doing at various times. He would pick me up on my way walking to school and cry about how he couldn’t live without my brother and mea”and about how he wants my brother and me to move in with him. Hearing his words and seeing my Dad cry were more than I could handle and deeply disturbed me.

My brother and I ended-up moving into my Dad’s apartment. During this time, he had us so freaked-out about our mother that we refused to visit her to decorate the Christmas tree. He had us backed into a corner of his apartment, making us feel guilty and scared to leave to go with her. Ultimately, he called and canceled the visit with her.

Unannounced, my mother moved out of the house while my brother and I took up residence at my Dad’s apartment. My Dad made a huge spectacle of the situation, having the neighbors on ‘patrol’. They were appointed posts and look-outs, and my brother and I were totally stressed over the whole situation. Dad even came to us at one point in a frantic state saying that my mother’s boyfriend flashed a gun at him. He also said that my mother smashed all the windows in the housea”and he later paraded us around the house to show us the damage she did. He went so far as to open all of the cabinets in the house, pointing out things like, aAND LOOK, she even took the TOILET PAPERa. To this day, I don’t know who actually did the window smashinga”my Dad was wrong in simply showing us the damage and creating a big deal about it.

Once we moved into the house, my mother wanted to have us come to her apartment for visitation. On two occasions in particular we didn’t go as an altercation between my mother and Dad broke out, and I had to call the police. After all was said and done, my brother and I wanted only to go to our rooms; therefore, we declined seeing our mother again. By the time I finally went to see my mother at her apartment, my Dad had us so scared that we were to call him at specific times to report if we are ‘okay’. I remember having to sneak away to find a phone every so often (actually quite often) to report what was going on.

I also remember being COMPLETELY FREAKED over the syringe that I saw in my mother’s bathroom. The syringe was simply an antique, glass display item that her doctor boyfriend gave her; however, with all of the hoopla created by my Dad surrounding her supposed drug use (which wasn’t true), I was shaking!

About the author: Gretel Ella is the author of the blog The Queen and King (, which details her life with a Borderline Personality Disorder mother and a Narcissistic Personality Disorder Dad. Entries also include analysis of Borderline, Narcissistic, and Antisocial Personality Disorders, along with additional writings about her family relationships, Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), critical parents, enlightened witnesses, adults shamed in childhood, estrangement, and more.


Frequently Asked Questions

    What are some deep ways that adult children of divorce are impacted?
    What are some deep ways that adult children of divorce are impacted?does divorce affect adult children and how

    my mother and father divorced when I was 19 and my sisters in their early 30’s,we all have been scarred in many ways even though we were adults at the time!

    • ANSWER:
      Yes. Some children blame themselves for the break-up of their family, thinking that it must have been something they did that caused it. Particularly if their parents used to argue about the kids in their hearing.
      If the parents run each other down to the children when it is their turn to have them, the effect can be very traumatic. The child is pulled in two different directions causing a great deal of damage to the child psychologically.
      There is always a sadness associated with a divorce, no matter how old the children are, whether you understand the reasons or not for the break-up.
      It is never easy to watch those you love suffering in any way and not being able to help.

    Is it fair for parent to talk about wanting divorce to adult children?
    I know they have it hard, but my mother is a codependent in an awful relationship with my father (he’s impossible to live with, but she’s put up with it for her own insecurities). She’s refused professional help, yet she always comes to me (usually me out of her children) to complain, and sometimes mention how she wants divorce. She never acts on it, and I sometimes wish she would so I didn’t have to hear it anymore. I’m just so tired of hearing it.

    • ANSWER:
      Sometimes parents can even manipulate their child’s opinion of another parent without even knowing it.

      My mother constantly complained about my father. And in turn, I asked my father if the stories were true. He denied it. My mother refused to get help or leave my dad. Now my father is dead and I am glad I made peace with him on my own. But only after being angry at him because of what my mother said. Near the end, my father’s bad behavior was attributed to tiny strokes, one right after the other. My mother was not happy with my father when he was alive. And she was not happy years after my father’s death.

      Even though your mother complains about your dad and threatens to get divorced she will never do it. She is too weak. She only knows how to bring people down. And that includes you. You love your mom. Tell her she needs to find another shoulder to complain on. Your mother has to help herself before anyone else can help her. Your other siblings will realize the same thing when she goes through them like she went through you.

      You need to live a happy life. Your mother has no right to bring you down. And no matter how hard you explain your feelings to her, she won’t understand. Take a few steps back and regain your composure. Be there for her when you are emotionally and physically ready even if it takes a few years. You have done a lot to help her the best way you know how. Now leave it up to your mother to decide for herself what she really wants. You may find her in the same emotional state 5 years from now.

    Is it right for the parents to involve their adult children with their divorce problems?
    My boyfriend’s dad is calling him and constantly giving him headaches about his divorce with his mom.

    Also, apparently his dad is calling other people in the family and some friends of his mom’s and telling everyone about their divorce and any settlement offers.

    Is this right to do? Should his dad even be involving his children in him and his wife’s problems?

    My boyfriend cannot give legal advice, he’s not an attorney, there’s nothing that he can really do for him. His dad needs to be talking with his attorney and making deals with him and my bf has told him over and over.

    • ANSWER:
      No matter how old the child, he shouldn’t be involved in the parents divorce. Sounds like the Dad is venting to whoever will listen. This isn’t fair to anyone. Your BF is going to have to be the one to talk to his Dad, or change the subject when the Dad starts venting. The Dad needs to be reminded over and over that his soon to be ex is still the child’s Mother.

    How does parental divorce affect adult children’s view of love and marriage?
    Can someone give me a good psychological insight into this?

    If someone is from divorced family, how would he/she view marriage and romance later in life?

    Would the parental divorce cause him/her to react to love in a negative light?
    (PS: excessive shyness, maybe?)

    PS: Descriptive answer and insight is much appreciated (‘coz I really need the info). Thanks in advance.

    • ANSWER:
      It definitely has an affect, more or less depends on how the parents handle it. In my case, my mother has been married 3 times, my Father was married and divorced 3 times by the time I was 12 years old. I learned you can not trust, when things get rough walk away. Parents when divorced become more selfish for they get lonely. The children seem to be put last. I wish I knew then what I know today for I would have done things differently. I would have not divorced my husband, I would have hung in there, yet watching my parents I did as they did. I suffered and my children suffered. They have a hard time with relationships and trust. When you have a positive childhood in which you live in an atmosphere of love and forgiveness, what a gift and a good start you will have in life. When, as I, brought up in a household of distrust, not able to commit, fighting, anger, confusion of rules it creates a low self esteem and you have to learn what love is by trial and error. Our children learn from watching us, not by what we tell them. Divorce makes a child have to grow up too soon, They do not get the gift of being a carefree child. I started worrying at the age of 6 years old. That was about the time of the divorce between my blood mother and father. I became scared, yet I did not really know why, I became quiet, I also blamed myself, yet was too young to know I was internalizing all this. What ever happened to working things out. Love becomes deeper, trust is developed over time by walking through the tough times together. I am now 53 and my life was not a happy one. Once I became and adult it was on me, yet I had so much confusion I did not know how to do relationships. I sought unhealthy men, agressive men. I let myself be controled and was afraid to express my beliefs. If a divorce is the only answer which to me would be in cases where there is physical abuse, sexual abuse, then take your children aside and talk to them about it . Let them feel free to come and ask you questions. Most of all I think all children of divorce should go to counseling where they can express freely there feelings to someone. How long dpends on the child, for all children take things differently. Let them know constantly it was not their fault and that it does not change the love both parents have for them. Don’t just say it show them you care. If you date do not involve them with your casual dates. Only let them meet someone that may become serious. See how that person interacts with your children, watch closely. When we choose to bring a child into the world it is a commitment . Just because of a divorce don’t divorce your children too. Then everyone looses. I have learned so much from my children. I have made amends to them for my mistakes, and shown it with action. I have not remarried since divorcing thier father, for I remember how hard it was on me. Unless I met someone that was God like, I will not remarry. They are now 21 and 24 and they have a problem commiting to a relationship, Yes I did what my parents did and I see how my boys are paying a price and it saddens me. I cannot change the past yet I can make sure I do not cause them more pain. I owe it to them to be there for them. they are very open with me about sex, drugs, everything. I do not judge them. I am the only parent that they can tell their mistakes to. Their grandparents live in denial as does their dad. I could go on and on for I have had multiple stepparents, half sisters and brothers, step sisters and brothers. When someone asks me how many brothers or sister I have, they do not realize what a tough question the asked. Hope this helps a bit.

    Adult children of divorce (men, ideally) – do you think you were negatively affected?
    I’m writing a paper for school about single mothers and the effects of divorce on children. There is a hypothesis in class that the stats are a bit exaggerated. Do you think that children of divorce, particularly men, fare as well as those of non-divorced parents when older? I’d like to hear from people whose parents actually split at a young age. Do you think this affected you in a profound way??
    What if the father remained an intregal part of the child’s life – i.e. there was regular visitation. Did this make it easier? Or better somehow?

    • ANSWER:

      Seriously, I always think of how things would have been different had my parents stayed together (even if they only stayed together for us and just separated after we graduated HS), and it is always a more positive outcome.

      Not only that, but I have had many friends over they years, some of them are from broken homes and some from married parents, and almost always without fail the ones from broken homes turn out worse or don’t get as far in life as the others.

      Now I am a coach for an inner city public high school team. Most of our kids are from broken homes or were raised by single mothers, and those kids’ lives are in shambles. The ones on our team that come from married parents do soooooo much better.

      One thing is for sure. I have learned not to make the mistake that my parents, and all my team parents made by getting a divorce. It’s better to live in misery until your kids are grown and gone than to do that to them. You REALLY ARE ruining their life by divorcing. I turned out OK (not great), but my siblings have not. My brother is 27, single, lives with his g-ma, works at a restaurant, drinks 12 beers a day, smokes a carton a week, takes pills, smokes pot, and probably has less than 10 years to live at the rate he is going. He blames it all on my parents, SPECIFICALLY the divorce.

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