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Q: My parents are getting a divorce. I’m just trying to process everything. I feel like my world has turned upside down. I’m sad, mad, confused and I feel lost. I know they were fighting a lot and it was getting kinda bad at home, but I can’t help but think that maybe if I did something different then they would still want to be together. Any advice?
A: I’m sorry, friend. Divorces are tough. And unfortunately, with more than half of marriages in the U.S. ending in divorce, there are many young people in your shoes. You’re obviously dealing with a lot of emotions right now, and that’s all okay and totally normal. You can’t fix your parents’ marriage, but you can focus on you right now. Here are some things to remember as you’re going through this difficult time.
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It’s Not Your Fault
Repeat the words above: It’s not your fault. Repeat that as many times as it takes for you to believe it. It’s super common for teens to believe they are responsible for their parents’ split. You might think if you received better grades or were always on your best behavior then your parents would want to stay together. It’s important to remember that the problems between your parents are THEIR problems. Your parents’ decision to divorce has to do with the issues between themselves and has nothing to do with you.
Feel All Your Feelings
You are experiencing many emotions right now. You might feel confused, sad, angry, frustrated or stressed out. You might even feel relieved if there was a lot of tension and fighting in the house. This is normal. Letting yourself feel all your feelings is actually healing. The key is not feeling guilty about your feelings. You are allowed to feel anything and everything about your parents’ divorce. Be kind to yourself. Journal your feelings. Also talking to your parents, teacher, or another trusted adult can really help.
You Can Handle It
Yes, there will be a number of changes as a result of the divorce. You might move. You might see one parent more than the other. You might have to change schools. There might even be a change in finances, and one parent who didn’t work might have to find a job. Change is hard, no doubt, but there are many benefits to change. There will be less tension and awkwardness, and much more importantly, there will be more love and happiness for your family. Try to see the pros over the cons. And no matter what happens, believe you can handle it all because you can.
You’ll Learn A Lot
Though you might not be able to see it right now, there will be a silver lining to this situation. You will learn a lot — including about yourself, your parents and relationships. You will learn how accepting change can be freeing. You will understand the value of having two whole happy families rather than one unhappy one. You will appreciate and recognize what a healthy relationship looks like. And you WILL be okay. It’s all going to be okay.