Many teenagers caught in their parents' divorce feel responsible in some way for what’s happening. But it’s important to remember that separation and divorce are a result of your parents’ problems with each other, not with you, and their decision to divorce is their own.
Your parents’ divorce is likely going to be a turning point in your life, and though it may seem hard, or close to impossible, it is possible to cope and to have a good family life despite the changes that are coming your way.
- remember this divorce is not about you
- be patient
- care for your younger brothers and sisters
- have a life of your own
- get caught in the middle of your parents’ new relationships
- choose sides
- take out your frustration with your parents' bad behavior by ignoring them or escaping from them
- be afraid to seek help from a mental health professional
- pull away from your friends
Every kid feels a sense of responsibility or guilt when his/her parents are going through a divorce. But remember: This divorce is not your fault, nor is it your responsibility to make sure your parents are OK.
Often times, parents going through a divorce behave like adolescents, forgetting that it's their job to put their children’s best interests first. Until they are able to move forward, you should build bonds with your siblings to help you get through this.
Because this too shall pass. Though it doesn’t feel like it when you’re living through it, your parents will eventually settle down and return their focus to being your parents. This means, among other things, that you will have Christmas again!
Divorce is hard on everyone, but it can be particularly hard on your younger siblings who can’t fully understand what’s happening in their family. As the older sibling, take the time to help them talk about the way they’re feeling. If you’re old enough to drive, take your younger siblings to the movies, to the bowling alley, and play with them so they don’t feel alone or displaced.
Now more than ever it’s important for you to place time and attention on the things that make you happy and not get caught up in your parents’ drama. This means have fun with your friends, do well in school, and make sure to pursue your interests.
You’re not expected to play ball with your parents' new friends. Feel free to tell them that you’re happy that they’re not lonely, but you are not obligated to meet them if you’re not interested in doing so. Make sure you say this clearly and lovingly.
This is always going to be your mother and this is always going to be your father. You don’t want them to have any memories of the sides you chose, and when you’re an adult, there won’t be—or shouldn’t be—sides anymore
Do not take out your frustration with your parents' bad behavior by ignoring them or escaping from them
In general, you can’t escape from your problems and in this case, you definitely can’t escape from your parents. Please take the time to communicate with them as best as you can, letting them know your frustrations and try to be patient.
Think of a mental health professional as a paid friend that has the tools to help teach you the coping skills to get you through this hard time. Your parents are probably not in the position to help you right now, so keep an open mind and find someone you trust that you can talk to about the issues you’re dealing with at home.
Make sure to rely on your friends to do all the fun things you love and do them often. However, don’t make your friends your advisors, even if they also have parents that are divorced. It’s important to remember that no two families are the same, and your friends are probably not equipped to give you the kind of advice and guidance that will get you through this difficult time.
There’s no sugarcoating the fact that divorce is trying for everyone, especially for the children. Remember though, that this will pass. Your parents will eventually be their normal selves again, and you are not, in any way, responsible for the dissolution of your parents’ marriage. Your focus during this process should be to seek out help, find support, do well in school, and pursue the interests that make you happy.