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Dealing with Divorce

Dealing with Divorce

Teen: Dear Dr. Expert,

Yesterday my parents told me and my brother that they are getting a divorce. I don't know why I was so surprised and upset. They fight all the time, they never seem happy, and our house is like a war zone! I have tons of friends whose parents are divorced. But I just can't believe that this is happening to my family. I mean, I've thought about it before and thought I would be relieved if it did happen. But now that it's real, I'm so upset and I just don't know how to deal with it. I can't stop crying, even at school. Please help.

Dealing with Divorce in Dawson Creek
Dr. Expert: Dear Dealing with Divorce in Dawson Creek,

I'm sorry to hear that your parents are divorcing, and I know this is a really stressful and sad time for you. Although it seems like the end of the world now, there are strategies that can help you cope with the separation of your parents. Some teens wonder whether if they did or didn't do something their parents would be happier and stay together. First, it's important to remember that your parents' split is not your fault. It doesn't mean that they love you any less. Also remember that there is nothing you could have done to keep them together.

If your parents are arguing a lot in front of you, try to sit them down at a good time and tell them to behave! Tell them that it's really hard to hear them badmouth each other and ask them to please stop. Let them know you don't want to be caught in the middle or take sides.

Also try to find someone outside the family who can support you during this difficult time. It could be a trained professional like a therapist or your school counsellor, or another supportive adult like a teacher or a relative. Make a special effort to take care of yourself during this stressful time. This includes eating right, getting enough exercise, and keeping good sleep habits. Also, think about activities that make you feel good - hanging out with friends, sports, art, music, dance, etc. - and get out and do them! It will get easier, and you won't always feel this way.