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Dealing With Divorce

Your parents are getting a divorce. Whether this is expected or unexpected, it is a traumatizing and overwhelming event to experience. Sometimes, teens and children feel like they somehow caused the divorce. However, it is important to remember that it is not your fault. Divorce occurs because of problems between the parents. You will have a lot of feelings regarding the divorce and it is important to speak with another adult or a counselor. Keeping your feelings bottled up can lead to depression.

What are some emotions I may feel after the divorce?

  • Shock – especially if you were not expecting the divorce
  • Anger – either directed at your parents or at no one specifically
  • Sadness
  • Guilt – you feel like the divorce is your fault
  • Anxiety – worrying about the future and who is going to take care of you
  • Worry – you feel that in the future you will get divorced
  • Fear – afraid of losing a parent
  • Embarrassed – you do not want people to know that things in your family are changing
  • Loneliness – no one understands you or understands what you are going through
  • Relieved – there is now less tension at home

What can I do to make dealing with divorce easier?

  • Be fair to both parents: Do not “take sides” and if your parents are persuading you to pick their side, tell them you do not want to. You need to be able to openly talk to or be with a parent without the other getting angry or jealous.
  • Work it out: it will not be easy to coordinate both parents coming to one of your events or games. Sometimes parents feel awkward going to events when the other parent is there. For example, you have a big soccer game this weekend. Both your parents want to come and you want both parents there. You could organize for your mom to come for the first half and for your dad to come for the second half.
  • Stay in touch: if you have to alternate time between your mom’s house and your dad’s house it can be hard on the other parent. Or if your dad takes you on a two-week vacation with him, your mom is going to miss you. Send her a postcard letting her know you miss her and are thinking of her. Or, at home, send her an e-mail asking her how her day was.
  • Don’t worry about the future: talk to your parents about your concerns. If you are worried that their divorce might ruin your future plans, let them know about it, and together you can come up with a solution.
  • Keep living your life: Sometimes a divorce can make you feel like you have to put your life on hold to deal with your parents’ problems – but you need to live your life. Do what you love to do and if you need support, lean on your friends, other family members, and trusted adults. If there is too much tension at home, see if you can stay with a close friend or relative until things get straightened out.

Finally – focus on the positive: divorces happen because parents are not happy with each other anymore. So the result of the divorce might mean that your parents are happier and maybe even have more time to spend with you. You will also learn to cope with tough circumstances and become stronger, which will help you later in life.