Dealing with Divorce & Crisis

Dr. Greg Allen, Ph.D., LMFT

For many people, their parents' divorce marks a turning point in their lives, whether the divorce happened many years ago or is taking place right now. About half the marriages in the United States today end in divorce, so plenty of kids and teens have to go through this. But when it happens to you, you can feel very alone and unsure of what it all means.

It may seem hard, but it is possible to cope with divorce — and have a good family life in spite of some changes divorce may bring.

Parents divorce for many reasons. Usually divorce happens when couples feel they can no longer live together due to fighting and anger, or because the love they had when they married has changed. Divorce can also be because one parent falls in love with someone else, and sometimes it is due to a serious problem like drinking, abuse, or gambling. Sometimes nothing bad happens, but parents just decide to live apart.

Did you know it’s really common for teens to think that their parents' divorce is somehow their fault? Just try to remember that parents' decisions to split up are to do with issues between them, and not because of something you might have done or not done.


Some kids feel guilty about what happened, or wish they had prevented arguments by cooperating more within the family, doing better with their behavior, or getting better grades. But separation and divorce are a result of a couple's problems with each other, not with their kids. The decisions adults make about divorce are their own.

 

If your parents are divorcing, you may experience many feelings. Your emotions may change frequently, too. You may feel stressed out, angry, frustrated, or sad. You might feel protective of one parent or blame one for the situation. You may feel abandoned, afraid, worried, or guilty. You may also feel relieved, especially if there has been a lot of tension or fighting at home. These feelings are very typical and talking about them with a friend, family member, or trusted adult can really help.

 

Talk about your feelings and reactions to the divorce with someone you trust. If you're feeling down or upset, let your friends and family members support you. These feelings usually pass. If they don't, and if you're feeling depressed or stressed out, or if it's hard to concentrate on your normal activities, let a counselor or therapist help you. Your parents, school counselor, or a doctor or other health professional can help you find one.
Many communities and schools have support groups for kids and teens whose parents have divorced. It can really help to talk with other people your age who are going through similar experiences.

 

Excerpt information above from: http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/families/divorce.html

 

Outside Resources

http://www.youngwomenshealth.org/divorce.html 
http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/top-5-mistakes-divorced-parents-make 
http://www.theantidrug.com/advice/safeguarding-and-monitoring/conversation-tips/divorced-and-disagreeing.aspx 
http://www.helpguide.org/mental/children_divorce.htm 
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/200908/parental-divorce-and-adolescents

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