Divorces are a tricky thing to deal with as a teen. The end of your parents’ marriage can leave you feeling like your world is crumbling. Some divorces are mutual and friendly, but other times they can be nasty and ugly to watch unfold.
No matter what kind of divorce your parents are having, you often can’t help but feel as if you’re stuck in the middle of a fight between two people whom you love equally. Although there isn’t anything you can do to fix what has been damaged in your parents' love life, it can be comforting to know that you will recover from the pain. Life may look different moving forward, but you will experience joy and peace in your family life again.
Whether your parents are going through the process or their divorce has just been finalized, we’ve here to help you through this difficult time. Here are some guidelines for handling life after your parents' divorce, and we promise, it’s not as bad as you think!
Why are my parents divorcing?
Just like how you change as you grow older, your parents are still changing, too. Sometimes these changes don’t break marriages, but sometimes they do. Love and affection can dissipate over the years, which can lead to parents gradually growing apart and losing that connection they once had. Clashing personalities can lead to disagreements and arguments, which can create a toxic environment. Certain differences in values and lifestyles can create a rift, and sometimes it’s hard to recover the previously happy union.
When this happens, it’s usually better if the parents go their separate ways. In the long run, it’s healthier for everyone not to feel trapped in a home full of resentment and hostility.
Whatever reason your parents are divorcing over, just know that it’s not your fault. Your parents are still your parents even after a divorce. They may even become friends after the initial pain of the divorce. It’s fully possible for the family to hold love and positive energy for each other following the divorce.
What you might be feeling
When situations go wrong, the first thing you’ll want to do is place blame. The truth is, there is no one to blame. It usually goes two ways: you either blame yourself, or you blame a parent. Placing the blame onto one or both of your parents isn’t going to make the situation go away and it won’t make you feel better. When you place the blame onto yourself, you’ll just create further upset and could end up overthinking—parents do not divorce because of their children, so you should never allocate that blame onto yourself.
Although it’s common, and maybe you just can’t help it, try not to play the blame game. You’ll only be creating a negative environment for negative thoughts to grow.
You can’t let anger get the best of you. You might feel angry at your parents for not trying harder to mend things, but this is another instance of the blame game. Trust that your parents are doing what’s best for your family, even if it doesn't seem that way at first glance.
It’s also easy to misdirect the anger you’re feeling for your parents' divorce onto other people, like your friends or other family members. This anger can also seep through as frustration at school, and could cause emotional and social problems and bad grades if you don’t work through it properly. It’s ok to feel anger, but don’t let it consume you and don’t act out on others. Process it through physical exercise, writing, or therapy. Most importantly, be kind to yourself as you work through it.
You're going to experience a lot of new changes in your life, so it’s completely normal to feel upset from the imbalance. Humans don’t always do well with change, especially when we don’t feel like we have a choice in the new change. Your parents’ divorce is hard on everyone, even your own parents. It’s important to remember that both your parents love you and that whatever choice they make they do with your well-being in mind.
Sometimes, sadness and upset can spiral into overwhelming stress and depression. If you’re constantly feeling upset and can’t seem to find any joy in life at the moment, you need to let someone know. No matter if your parents are waging a war with each other or being civil, they will stop whatever they’re dealing with to make sure you are okay and getting the support and help you need.
What happens now?
Routines will change
Your daily routine will likely change in some shape or form. You may have to move houses or schools, and you may have to pick which parent you want to live with. This can be scary at first, but this change will open up so many positive opportunities for you. You’ll be able to spend quality time with both of your parents separately without having to deal with fights or arguments. There will be less negativity in the time you spend together. You may also have two houses, which means you’ll have two rooms which can act as safe spaces just for you.
Your family might grow
You’ll have to get used to the idea of your family growing. After a parental separation, there’s the possibility that either of your parents could find a new partner and have more children, which means you could have a step-parent or step-sibling.
Step-parents and step-siblings are not something you should be worried about - they aren’t all evil like you see in the movies. You have the potential to gain a new set of family members that you could end up loving and adoring! They’re your bonus family. Some step-siblings become the best of friends, while some step-parents make amazing guardians. Just remember that change isn’t always a bad thing, as long as you don’t fight it and try to see the positive.
Your environment will improve
If your parents were fighting often before the divorce, their separation might actually improve your home environment. When you have two people that are clashing together, physical separation can help them regain civility again. Too much time spent together can be a breeding ground for anger and frustration, so when you eliminate this, you and your parents can live a happier life.
At first, your parents might seem stressed or upset themselves, as this is a huge change in their lives, too. But once the dust has settled and you’ve all found your rhythm, you may find that life is happier than before. In some cases, you could find yourself in family therapy with your parents and siblings—but this is a good thing. Therapy is a great way to learn to deal with any negative thoughts and feelings and can help everyone to move on to better days.
Your life will continue
Life still carries on, even if your parents bow out of their marriage. You may feel like your life is on hold when your parents decide to divorce, but it can and will get better.
During their divorce, your parents may temporarily be caught up in their own changes, so you must focus on yourself and your life. Don’t lose sight of your future dreams and plans, and try to keep your life rolling like normal. It can be tempting to give up on your usual activities like sports or meeting friends, but it’s necessary to keep some level of consistency and familiarity while you go through such a big life change.
Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. If you have a hard time, remember that there is always the chance for a better tomorrow.
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