Information for Preteens: About Divorce
If your parents divorce, it is a hard transition for everyone in the family, and it may take a year or so before things settle down again. Each person will have to grieve, set new goals, and deal with some stress around the changes happening in the family.
There are also financial and custody decisions to be made by your parents or the court (such as where you live, who makes decisions about your life, and when you spend time with either parent or guardian). The kids in the family have to learn how to have two homes and sometimes two sets of friends.
If you are lucky, your parents deal with their own issues (anger and loss) and are able to cooperate to make sure you are happy and focused on making your new life work. Unfortunately, parents are not perfect, and you may be in for a bumpy ride, so here is my advice:
When your parents divorce, you might feel as if you have to choose between your parents, but you don't. They both still love you, if not each other. Your loyalty is to both parents, but most of all, to yourself.
Your parents may want you to go to different schools, so make sure you tell them both which school you prefer. If they cannot agree on things like custody, they may have to go to court. If you do not like what is going on, talk to the judge or get a therapist to write a letter for you.
Try not to let the stress in your households get to you. If the divorce gets too stressful for you, find an outlet for anger, stress, and the like. For example:
- Spend some time at a friend's or relative's house
- Ask your parents to "take it down a notch"
- Write in a journal
- Play a musical instrument
- Listen to your favorite CD
- Yell into a pillow
- Find a comfort object (like a favorite sweatshirt)
- Develop a nervous twitch (just kidding).
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A Message From the Doctor
When is it time to get help?
Sometimes your feelings and thoughts just seem bigger and more complicated than usual. You may find that you cry easily, have difficulty sleeping, and have trouble letting go of your troubling thoughts. Maybe your parents and friends are too close to you or too involved with what is bothering you to see things differently enough to come up with new solutions and ideas.
This is when a counselor can be very helpful.
A counselor has experience hearing about all kinds of thoughts and feelings. He or she can see your situation from the outside, help you find new ways of understanding your problems, and offer enormous support during this time. A good way to find a counselor is to ask your parents for help, see your school counselor, or ask your doctor for a referral.
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Madison, middle school student writer
Reviewed by: Adolescent Interest Group
Last reviewed: August 2013