My Parents Are Divorcing. How Do I Cope?

My parents are divorcing

When it comes to the relationship between divorce and children, parents breaking up can impact kids psychologically, emotionally, physically, and academically. When children are young, it is important for parents to learn how to explain divorce to children and how to help their children cope.

However, teenagers and adults who have divorcing parents might be searching on their own for information on coping with divorce. For these different stages in life, learning how to deal with your parent’s divorce might look a bit different whether you’re still living under your parent’s roof or if you have transitioned into adulthood.

In both cases, though, it’s important for you to learn how to identify, experience, and validate your own emotions as a part of the healing process. It is easy for both teens and adults to suppress their emotions that stem from such a difficult occurrence, however, this can have a number of psychological and physiological consequences.

Are you wondering how to cope when you’re parents are getting a divorce? Let’s take a look at what you need to know.

Coping With Divorce as a Teenager

The teenage years are often a time of high emotions, with so much going on with friends, relationships, and school. Many teens are already feeling stress during this time, and parents divorcing or problems in the home can amplify that.

Here are some important things to remember when your parents are getting divorced.

It’s Not Your Fault and It Never Was

As a teenager, watching your parent’s relationship and can be one of the most difficult things you will go through. Even though this can be a very hard time, you never want to forget that it is not your fault. Relationships can be incredibly complicated, and your parents are separating because of issues between them and not to do with you.

It is easy to worry that things that you did or didn’t do led to your current situation. However, there is nothing that you could have done to change the outcome of your parent’s relationship.

You’re Not Their Messenger

Unfortunately, some parents will use their children as a messenger to share information between homes. This is not your responsibility, and you should not be put in the position of being their go-between. It is your parent’s responsibility to figure out how to communicate with each other in a way that does not involve you.

Validate Your Emotions, Don’t Suppress Them

When you find out that your parents are getting a divorce, there are a lot of different emotions that you might feel. Maybe you feel angry, confused, sad, or maybe you even feel relieved if your parents were always fighting. No matter how you feel about the situation, it is absolutely crucial that you validate your emotions.

Feeling guilty about the emotion you’re having won’t accomplish anything and will only cause more pain and discomfort for you. Many teenagers might be tempted to suppress their emotions because they are worried that there is something wrong with them. However, allowing yourself to experience your emotions and vent them is essential to your mental health.

When people suppress their emotions, they often find ways to vent these emotions. This might lead to issues like overeating or abusing alcohol or drugs. Self-destructive behavior like this will only make the situation worse, and if you’ve found yourself coping in this type of way it’s important to get professional counseling right away.

Emotions will always be a part of life. It is important that we learn to accept, experience, and validate our motion in order to leave the healthiest life possible.

Find New Ways of Dealing With Stress

You may have never dealt with as much stress as you are now that your parents are getting divorced. If you haven’t had to figure out how to handle stress in the past, you might be feeling unequipped for the situation you’re going through.

There are a lot of different things that you can do for stress management. Everyone is different, and you can experiment with what works for you. Lots of people, though, are able to find hobbies that they enjoy that assist them in getting through times that are tough.

Here are some popular stress management hobbies and techniques:

  • Journaling
  • Running
  • Yoga
  • Hiking
  • Doing puzzles
  • Cooking
  • Coloring
  • Knitting, crocheting, or quilting
  • Spending time with your pet
  • Playing sports
  • Breathing exercises
  • Art projects
  • Socializing with friends

While you can’t change the fact that your parent’s getting divorced is causing stress in your life, you can adopt stress management techniques that help you cope with it.

Divorce can obviously be quite stressful for parents, too. If you’ve been experiencing anxiety as a co-parent, check out these five tips to help you cope.

Communicate With Your Parents

When you’re parents are getting a divorce, you might not feel particularly compelled to tell your parents how you are feeling. However, it’s important that you don’t keep your feelings from them during this time. Share with them what you’re going through emotionally so that they can understand how the divorce is affecting you.

You shouldn’t be scared or ashamed to tell your parents that you’re feeling sad or angry about the divorce. Some teens might worry that doing so will make their parents feel bad. However, your parents want to know how you’re doing and it’s their responsibility to be there for you.

Talk to Your Close Friends

Sometimes it can be good to talk to those who are close to you that are beyond your family. Your closest friends want the best for you and want to know what’s going on in your life. When you’re parents are going through a divorce, talk with your best friends and tell them what you’ve been going through.

It can be hard to talk about these things, and maybe you don’t want to talk about your parents divorce with all of your friends. However, confiding in your closest friends can be a very healthy way to deal with and vent your emotions, keeping you healthier and happier and avoiding the outcome of suppressing emotions.

Consider Talking to an Expert

It can feel odd to talk to a professional therapist or counselor at first. However, it can be very helpful to have someone to listen to you and talk things out with during this time. They can offer tips or insights to help you manage your emotions, and otherwise provide a safe place where you can talk about how you feel.

Relationships can be complicated, and there are some things that you might not feel comfortable telling your parents or your close friends. While it’s good to be open and honest with those around you, it is certainly understandable if you feel hesitant to be completely open about how you’re feeling. Therapists can be a great tool in this type of circumstance, to help you explore how you are feeling and decide how to communicate that honestly with the people in your life.

How to Deal With Your Parent’s Divorce as an Adult

Even though the divorce rate in the US is on the decline, there is one demographic where divorce is on the rise. Surprisingly, this group is people over the age of 50.

Commonly referred to as “gray divorces,” we are now at a point where one in four people that are getting divorced in the United States are in this older demographic.

There are a number of different factors that are thought to contribute to this rise in divorce at an older age. These include the fact that divorce is more socially acceptable, that women are more financially independent, and that people are living longer.

It is also common for parents to wait to end their marriage until their kids have left the house. The thought process behind this is that adult children will be better able to deal with their parent’s relationship unraveling. While this can be true in some ways and it can certainly be better for children to have a stable home environment when they’re growing up, that doesn’t mean that divorce can’t be devastating and confusing to adult children.

Many adult children whose parents are getting divorced might assume that it shouldn’t be a big deal for them. However, this is a major life transition for them, too, as it impacts the structure of their family forever. Let’s take a look at some divorce tips for adult children.

Understand That Your Experiences and Feelings Are Valid

Everyone is going to have a different experience when their parents are getting a divorce. Some adult children might be struck with relief, happy that their unhappy parents are finally moving on from an unhealthy relationship. On the other hand, though, it can be devastating to have your family structure change and feel as though it’s in dissolution, which is absolutely a valid way to feel.

No matter how you feel, the important thing is to validate your feelings and experiences. As adults, sometimes we think we know how we should feel about certain occurrences. However, our feelings aren’t dictated by what we think should happen rationally, and so it’s important to recognize how you actually feel versus how you think it would be most mature and ideal for you to feel.

Know That You’re Not Alone

As mentioned earlier, divorces between adults over the age of 50 are on the rise. While this may or may not be comforting, it can help to understand that you aren’t alone in this situation.

Some research surrounding this phenomenon finds that roughly half of the adult children of older divorcees report negative experiences and feelings. Conflicted feelings lead about half of them to withdraw from their parents. Luckily, within about five years most of these estranged parents and children will reconcile, according to the research.

Acknowledge Your Grief

You can lose so many things when your parents get divorced, even if you’re an adult and no longer living at home. You might find that your extended family is no longer intact, it can change the structure of your support systems, and it can alter your dreams about future family celebrations, rituals, and traditions.

Acknowledging your grief is an important step in this process. You should feel free to share the fact that you are grieving these losses with your family and friends. You should be allowed time to mourn this loss and accept so that you can heal, and communicating this need with family and friends can help give you the space you need.

Set Boundaries That Work For You

Adult children of divorcing parents can feel caught in the middle when there are conflict or issues. As an adult, you can set boundaries that make it clear that you don’t want to participate in being a messenger, middleman, therapist, surrogate spouse, or any other kind of unhealthy or unnecessary role.

If you want to have a relationship with both parents, make it clear that you love them both and want to maintain a healthy relationship with both of them. Rather than fulfilling unhealthy roles for your parents, it’s important that you insist that they get the help they need elsewhere.

You can also request that your parents keep their personal issues out of family and celebratory events. There is no need for holidays and celebrations to be traumatic events ad infinitum, and it’s important that both parents be able to participate in the family without making it about their personal scuffles.

If you’re getting divorced, check out these five tips to help you deal with the stress.

Divorce and Children: Finding Resources to Help Everyone Cope

Many people involved in a divorce or with divorcing parents might feel ashamed or even inconvenienced by their emotions and experience. However, it’s absolutely essential that you prioritize your mental health during this time to help you get through what is understandable a very difficult experience.

You don’t have to go through this alone and should seek the help of supportive family, friends, and healthcare professionals. There are countless resources available online and elsewhere to help you learn how best to cope with divorce.

If you’re looking for more resources that have to do with divorce and children, check out the library of information available on the 2houses blog.

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