Un-permanent: advice for coping with divorce


Children of divorcees are often left emotionally affected and plagued with feelings of guilt and isolation. By learning to properly cope, however, they can mitigate the harm of divorces.

The heavier subjects are the hardest to talk about; that’s one of the many things I’ve learned in my 18 years. It’s not only difficult for children and teenagers, but for adults and parents. Though I am not a parent, and just going off the encounters and knowledge of my own, I’ve learned that one of the hardest things for them to talk to us about was their separation, then gradually their divorce.

My situation was like that of any other 13-year-old going through a divorce. Gathering us in the living room, my parents told my siblings and me that they were separating and that my dad would be moving out. We spent time with my dad in his apartment and my mom in our house, feeling out the new living situation – living in purgatory in preparation for what would happen next. Several months later, my mom told us that she and dad decided they were getting divorced. That was when the moving, paperwork and therapy occurred.

In a study lead by the American Psychological Association, “40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce.” In 2014, the separation and divorce of parents became more of an occurrence. More children seem to share divorced parents, rather than a favorite color.

Children feel guilty and saddened by divorce because they don’t understand why their parents seem to not love each other, or why their parents seem to not love them. These children are also not taught how to cope with this new living situation, which makes the change even more difficult.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned through this, it’s how to cope when you go in knowing nothing. And for anyone feeling lost and in the same place, I’ve got some tips:

 1. Find someone you can talk to – in this case, nothing is too personal where you can’t share it. Having a person, whether it be a friend, sibling, parent, therapist, to whom you can talk can help tremendously.

2. Don’t keep it in – this is probably the unhealthiest thing you could do. Not expressing your feelings, especially in a situation as emotional as divorce, can affect you in an extremely negative way. Don’t be afraid to cry.

3. Know it’s not your fault – for many small children who don’t properly register divorce, they jump to the conclusion that it’s their fault. This doesn’t resonate as much for teenagers but it’s still important to know that what your parents decided was not because of anything you have done.

4. Still make time for family – even though the last place you want to be is with your family or parents, it’s important to still spend time with them. Everyone in your family is going through this struggle. The most crucial thing is to be there for each other.

5. Hobbies help – while in times of distress and depression; it’s important to keep your mind and body busy. Take out that notepad that’s been sitting under your bed for 6 months or inflate that flat basketball and make your way to the park. Not occupying yourself and letting your thoughts sit, especially in such a terrible time, isn’t good for you or your health. So get out there!

Being the oldest sibling in a divorced family, I chose to hide my feelings for the sake of my parents and siblings. I realize now that sharing my feelings is completely normal and shouldn’t be something bad. I also learned in the process that it’s okay to be sad; it’s not something to be humiliated of. And everything always improves; no matter how low you think the place is. As much as I wish I could have been prepared, I know that it was not meant to be that way, nor will it ever be so.

Life comes at you and expects you to catch what it throws; divorce is one of them. As permanent as it seems now, it won’t seem so for long: “this too, shall pass.”