Research shows that teens who experience a divorce suffer in their self-esteem, academic performance, peer relationships, behavior, and physical health. It’s clear that you may need to feel supported by others if your parents are going through a divorce. For instance, many teens of divorcing parents feel the instability of the family structure and that leads them to make unhealthy choices in order to cope with difficult feelings. To avoid that in your own life, you may need to find support as your parents go through a divorce. Teens of divorcing parents may need ways to safely express your feelings, understand what divorce means, and gain the assistance of friends and relatives. If your parents are going through a divorce, here are tips for finding the support you need:
Write down your feelings.
This is a way to get clear about your reactions to the divorce. Sometimes, without giving your feelings attention, they just swarm around inside and create a collective bad mood. You’re not sure why you’re feeling bad, other than knowing that your parents are divorcing. But when you write down your feelings, you have the opportunity to recognize each of your emotions. For instance, perhaps you’re feeling angry because your parents didn’t mention anything at all and they’ve suddenly dropped this on you. Or perhaps you’re feeling confused about who you will live with and when. Getting in touch your feelings helps you experience them clearly. Then, you can decided whether you need to get help for those feelings, like talking to a friend or school counselor.
Find a friend whose parents have divorced.
It can be very useful to talk to someone who has already been through this experience, especially a friend or someone your age. This can help with not feeling alone, if you’re feeling this way and can provide support in the areas you might not know you need them. For instance, a friend might say, when my parents divorced, I needed to spend more time with others so that I didn’t feel like everyone was leaving me. Or a friend might say, when my parents divorced, I became a lot closer with my brother.
Connect with other family members.
Spending time with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins can also be helpful. Doing so, can help you recognize that your family will still be there for you even if your parents are going through a hard time in their relationship.
Read about divorce.
There are rare occasions when you may need to take it upon yourself to get the care you need. One way to find emotional and psychological care is to read. There are many books for teens of divorcing parents who are trying to navigate these tumultuous waters. These include:
Teens Are Not Divorceable: A Workbook for Divorced Parents and Their Teens, by Bonkowski, Sara
A Heart With Two Homes by Epperson, Monica
Charlie Anderson by Abercrombie, Barbara
Boundless Grace by Hoffman, Mary
Let’s Talk About It: Divorce by Rogers, Fred
Daddy’s Roommate by Willhoite, Michael
Good-Bye Daddy! by Weninger, Brigette
Mom and Dad Break Up by Prestine, Joan Singleton
The Divorce Express by Danziger, Paula
This is Me and My Two Families by Evans, Marla D.
Divorced But Still My Parents by Thomas, Shirley, Ph.D. and Dorothy Rankin
Families by Tax, Meredith
It’s Not the End of the World by Blume, Judy