Young adults should not be exposed to the misdeeds of their parents by the other parent, if possible. A son or daughter will make assessments on his or her own. Those assessments will vary from child to child and change over time, based on their own observations and experience. Actions speak louder than words.
Be cool. Remember that you are setting an example of how an adult should act under stress. Maintaining dignity and self-control is appreciated by the young adult. They will be disturbed and worried if a parent “loses it.” Get support, aside from your child. If depression sets in, see your family doctor and a therapist. Depression and anxiety are conditions that can definitely be improved. Taking care of yourself is an adult responsibility.
Be nice. Remember that having had children together, you will be in relationship with the other parent forever, to one degree or another. Don’t make things worse. Children rely on their parents to do the right thing. There are major occasions to come--graduations, weddings, births, grandchildren’s events, and if there’s a problem. You will both want to be there..
Be careful. While it may be surprising to hear an announcement of divorce, the young adult has observed the marital dynamic throughout their lives and may intuitively know why this decision has been made. He or she may ask for information, but use judgment in terms of content. Again, don’t over-confide. They may think they want to know, but they will wish they didn’t after the boundary has been crossed.
Be prepared. People of this age still need a safe place to land. Becoming independent is a gradual process. When an 18 year old leaves for college or the military, they still need the notion of “home” particularly because they are usually home a lot in the first few years. A secure place to come and go from will help them gain confidence as they push themselves out of the nest. They are likely to ask “Where’s home going to be? What will happen to my stuff?” Be prepared to answer those questions.
Divorce isn’t easy and requires more maturity than most of us have to do it well. It’s better to avoid mistakes now, than try to repair damage for years to come.