Dealing With Divorce
Dealing With Divorce
Carly Raby (Participation Manager) gives expert video advice on: My parents are divorcing - how is my life going to change?; How can I stop my parents getting divorced?; How can I stop my mum from bad-mouthing my dad? and more...
My parents are divorcing - how is my life going to change?
If your parents are divorcing, the ways that your life might change are really down to who your parents are and some of the decisions that your parents make about whereabouts they're going to live and how close they're going to be to each other. Maybe you're going to to have to decide whether you move to a new area or whether you're staying where you are. So really the changes that are going to happen are dependent on your individual situation and how your family are going to proceed.
Is my parents' divorce my fault?
When your parents are divorcing, it is quite easy to think that it's your fault. It's absolutely not your fault. There is nothing that you can do or nothing that you have done to make your parents divorce. Your parents met before they had you, and at the point that they decide to go their separate ways is because their relationship is not working for them and they don't want to be together anymore. That has nothing to do with you. Your relationship with them shouldn't really suffer because of the decision that they've made to divorce
Will I have to choose between my mum and dad?
You shouldn't have to choose between your mum and dad during a divorce, but it depends on each individual family and what's happening within your family. It might be that your mum or dad needs to move out and choose somewhere else to live. You will have to make decisions after a divorce about which house you're going to live in - where it makes most sense for you to live so you can get to school and back easily. You might be part of deciding where it is that you're going to live, but you shouldn't have to emotionally choose who you love more, or think that the decision of where you're going to live will make one person feel better or worse than the other one. It should be a practical decision, and your parents should be supporting you in making decisions about that in the easiest possible way.
What will happen at Christmases and birthdays?
Each family is different, and after your parents have gotten divorced sometimes birthdays and Christmases can be more difficult than they were to arrange because there's more people and more places to take into account. But hopefully, your parents will help to make that as easy as possible and, hopefully, you will be part of deciding where you'd like to be at Christmas, who you'd like to spend it with, and it might be possible to sort of share the day between the two or for everyone to come together just for that day and focus on you, rather than their relationship, so it depends on each different circumstance, really, and how friendly your parents are and how easily they find it to make those sort of arrangements.
Is it normal to feel very emotional about my parents divorce?
It's quite normal to feel angry when your parents get divorced. It's quite normal to feel a variety of emotions when your parents get divorced. Some people feel very upset and confused and angry. Part of feeling as good as you can do about your parents' divorce is to really be talked through the whole divorce process, and for your parents to explain to you what went wrong in their relationship, why they've made the decision to separate, and to be clear as they possibly can be about the plans for after the divorce -- where you're going to live, what's going to happen next. Sometimes adults get caught up in getting divorced and all the emotions they've got still with themselves and they're not as good as they could be at explaining what's happening with the divorce to you so it might be that you're left feeling very confused or angry or distressed. It also just is upsetting when your parents go their separate ways and the family that you're used to being in changes. So it's quite normal to feel upset about your parents' divorce and it's important to talk to your peers or even someone whose job it is to help you or a helpline to get some support and advice at that time.
My parents got divorced when I was very little - why am I not over it yet?
People take different lengths of time to get used to their parents being divorced. Some people are relieved when their parents get divorced, in a way, because the arguing's been so bad in the past that it's actually a much calmer and nicer place to be with individual parents without that being in the way. Some people felt very happy to be part of a family and when parents go their separate ways, they never ever feel that it's the same again. So different people will take different lengths of time to get over it. Some people will, and some people, it will upset them for a very long time. And the quickest way to deal with the feelings that you might be having is to talk openly with somebody who can help you who might be a school counselor or just a really good family friend or someone that you trust or you could talk to someone whose job it is--like a ChildLine--he's independent, he can really listen to what you've got to say and help you to explain some of the feelings you might be feeling. But you can't compare yourself to anyone else. It will just take the length of time it takes for you to get your head around a big change in your life.
I'm relieved that my parents are getting divorced - is this normal?
A lot of people do feel relieved in a way when their parents get divorced, because, in some situations, parents have been arguing for a very long time and it's felt like an uncomfortable and horrible place to live. Coming home after school with your parents screaming and shouting at each other, or not speaking at all, doesn't feel very comfortable. And sometimes, when they go their separate ways and do divorce, you can enjoy a better relationship with both of your parents on their own, because they're feeling happier and they've created a much nicer space for you to be in. So sometimes, it's a good thing when they divorce, even though it doesn't feel like it at the time. And if you're feeling relieved, that's perfectly normal, too, because it is the end of a very hostile feeling situation, and it's going to start feeling a lot easier, hopefully.
My parents hate each other and are always using me to get at each other - what should I do?
It's quite a common situation for your parents to really feel like they hate each other at the point they decide to get a divorce. It's important for you to understand that they really have got to a point where they feel they can't be in the same space, and that's why they decided to get divorced. Your parents really should be getting help for themselves and their own feelings and you shouldn't be dealing with how they're feeling. If they hate each other and really are feeling very emotional and using you as a go-between, it's very important to get support for yourself so that you can deal with how they're behaving, and telling them you don't like it is obviously important, and sitting down with them and describing how it makes you feel and the impact it's having on you when they behave like that is crucial. Try and get some support for yourself from organizations that are there to give you support, like helplines and childline, or talk to your friends and familiy that have nothing to do with the situation about how it feels, and maybe make a plan so that if they start to do that you can go out for a walk or see somebody that knows how hard it is for you at the moment.
I don't want anyone to know my parents are divorcing - can I keep it a secret?
You don't have to tell anybody that you're parents are divorcing and your personal life is your personal life, but hopefully if you've got friends that are very good friends and family who are supportive, telling them what your situation is will only make it easier for you because they'll be there and they'll understand that you have got a lot more on your plate than usual and you might need a little bit of extra attention and extra looking-after yourself. If you talk to people at school then schools and teachers can be a bit more supportive, maybe give you less homework, a bit less to deal with and an opportunity at school to have a chat and get things off your chest, and there also might be other friends of yours that you don't know about in your class that have been going through similar things to what you're going through now who'll be very helpful and supportive. So there are a lot of plus points about telling people, and lots of people's parents are divorced, so it might be things that a lot of your peers have experienced. But if you don't want to tell anyone, then you don't have to tell anyone that you're not comfortable talking to.