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What it’s Like to Have Divorcing Parents as an Adult

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

it’s really weird

When I was younger, I had countless friends with divorced parents. It was just a normal part of their lives, and seemed almost exciting as they had two of everything. But it has always been a constant for them, as their parents often got divorced when they were in elementary school or even before. In my case, even though I was aware my parents’ relationship wasn’t completely normal, I had always been lucky to have a two-parent household, and I kind of assumed it would always be that way. But as is the case for many others, my parents called it quits as soon as I, the youngest child, left for college, leaving me in a strange limbo of emotions.

When my parents started actually taking action to separate, I struggled to define my feelings, but felt pressure to be indifferent about it. I mean, I was technically an adult, had moved out of the house and the news wasn’t super shocking looking back. It was talked about with an odd level of casualness as well, with people close to us saying they’ll visit my mom’s new condo, yet never actually talking about why she moved out in the first place. It was something I just had to accept, and it seemed silly to be upset over such a thing at my age, especially when it wasn’t a difficult or complicated separation.

However, a lot of change occurs when your parents get divorced after so long, and it was difficult to navigate for the first time. When I came back from college, I was no longer coming back to the same home. In fact, I had the realization that my family would never stay under the same roof again now that my mom moved out. There was a tangible absence too, like the lack of holiday decorations in my once festive house. Furthermore, there was much confusion over what family traditions we continued. While they both come for graduations, birthdays and move-ins, we no longer have Thanksgiving, holiday parties or family game nights. I had to adjust to smaller aspects as well, such as realizing they didn’t talk regularly when I was shocked my dad wasn’t aware of something I had told my mom. Some things were completely different, and some were shockingly normal, and I got to the point where I really never knew what to expect when something involved my family. 

When something like this happens when you’re an adult, it’s hard to know how you should feel, and very tempting to invalidate your feelings about it. I used to brush off any negative emotions I felt because it didn’t necessarily impact me daily, and it was fairly amicable. However, it’s important to recognize the immense change that occurs when divorce happens at a later stage in life. I’m emotionally mature enough to understand what’s going on, but some aspects of my life were turned completely upside down after eighteen years, and once I left for college, my home life was never the same. However, everything gets better with time as I adjust to our new dynamic. Though I allow myself to feel sad or nostalgic at times, I can understand this is what’s best for everyone, and we’re all figuring out our new normal one piece at a time.

Angie Bloechl

Wisconsin '25

Angie is a junior at UW-Madison this year studying economics. She love listening to podcasts, reading & painting!