MILLENIALS NOW REQUESTING PARENTS HELP IN THEIR DIVORCES

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Illustration by Tomi Um

  • Carol Sigelman, a developmental psychologist, observes that as young adults take longer to achieve full independence—due to the economy, remaining in school longer to earn advanced degrees, and other factors

 

Oh millenials! The new adults in diaper in America, secured with liberal safety pins and equipped with nursery rooms called ‘safe spaces’ or cry-in rooms. Now millennials are  aldo requesting the help of their parents to deal with their own divorces.

According to a report in the Washingtonian:

Washington divorce lawyers say that’s not unusual—many report dealing with more moms and dads than ever before, seeing or speaking with clients’ parents as frequently as every week. Sheila Kadagathur, a partner at Hostetter Strent, recalls a recent client in her thirties talking in detail about her sex life with her mother present.

In some cases, parents have a financial stake and want to be kept apprised of the legal strategy. In others, they get involved purely to offer support and guidance. Among clients in their twenties, thirties, and even early forties, attorneys say they’re observing a changing dynamic, with adult children depending on, and confiding in, their parents more than prior generations did.

“Years ago, you would virtually never see a parent with a client,” says Sandy Ain, name partner at Ain & Bank, who has practiced family law for 40 years. “In the last ten years, it’s become considerably more prevalent.” In fact, Ain says he missed this reporter’s first call because he was on the phone with a concerned father.

Better technology plays a role. It’s simply easier for family members to stay in constant touch. But those who study parent/child relationships also offer other hypotheses about what has led to the shift.

Carol Sigelman, a developmental psychologist who chairs the psychology department at George Washington University, observes that as young adults take longer to achieve full independence—due to the economy, remaining in school longer to earn advanced degrees, and other factors—their parents are staying healthier and more active. The result? A turn away from the old model in which middle-aged kids were already caring for aging parents: “I think maybe there’s a shift right now toward more help going from the parents’ generation to the adult children.”

Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of How to Raise an Adult and former dean of freshmen at Stanford University, says with regard to children in their twenties and thirties—i.e., millennials—parental involvement in divorce is “a logical extension” of what she witnessed among college students. “The parents felt they had to be there at every turn—‘I have to talk to authority figures on your behalf; I have to edit your papers,’ ” she recalls of her time at Stanford from 1998 to 2012.

 

 

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